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Coffee Break: Staying Calm When You're About to Lose Your Cool

Tell us about a time when you were about to lose your cool with a member of the public. How did you manage to calm down and handle the situation politely? That was the question we asked you for this issue’s Coffee Break, and you sent us plenty of creative examples of how you maintained your professionalism in the face of trying circumstances.

A mother and grandfather came in with three rambunctious, out-of-control kids to adopt a dog because the mother was told it would help calm the children. No one in this family seemed to have the skills or patience needed to handle any pet. After 10 minutes of out-of-control behavior, we were furious at the adults for allowing the kids to run rampant through the adoption lobby and less than happy with the kids. We were to the point of asking them to leave when I decided to instead take each child individually by the hand and one by one take them on a five-minute private tour. We sat on the floor of the kitten room and with our “quiet voice” invited kittens to crawl into our laps to be petted. Turns out these children had never touched a cat or dog and were just overwhelmed at the mere presence of them. I gave each the homework assignment of practicing the quiet voice and gentle touch on a stuffed toy at home and invited Mom to come back when she thought they were ready to accept the notion of gentleness and respect for their future adopted pet. The family did come back three months later, eager to show off the positive results of their newly practiced skills, and left with a 6-month-old kitten.

Kathy Gumph, Adoption Counselor, Humane Society Naples, Naples, Florida

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