Sometimes as teachers we’re faced with difficult scenarios outside of the classroom. One of the most nerve-racking and tense situations is when speaking with an angry parent. It can be especially difficult for new teachers who may never have encountered it before. However, it does get easier as you become more experienced and fortunately, it happens infrequently. Furthermore, there are techniques that you can use to manage the situation effectively.
Having worked with teachers from all over the country we’ve helped in this regard many times. Here are our top tips for dealing with an angry parent.
The likelihood is that the parent may have been building up to what they’ve wanted to say all day so it’s a good idea to listen and allow them the time to let off steam. At this point, do not interrupt them.
Once they have gotten everything off their chest and you fully understand the complaint they’re making, you need to judge whether it’s something that you are able to handle. If it is something outside of your control or is a serious matter you should refer them to the head teacher or another appropriate senior member of staff.
If it is an issue that you can handle, then firstly, empathise with the parent. One of the best things to say in this scenario is ‘I understand where you’re coming from, if I were in your shoes I would feel the same way too’. Not only does this sentence show that you understand but it helps humanise you too. By placing you in their situation and allowing them to reflect on the point that they are right, they are more inclined to feel like you’re on their side.
4. Apologise and take responsibility
Even if it’s not your fault it can sometimes be easier to apologise. Sometimes a line such as ‘this shouldn’t have happened I’m sorry that you’ve had to come to the school and take time out of your day to resolve this’ can be enough for a parent.
5. Look into it
Make sure the parent feels secure that whatever the situation is, it will never happen again. Look thoroughly into the issues raised and tell the parent what the process will look like from your side.
6. Follow up
It’s important that the parent’s issue is settled with a conclusion. Once you’ve looked into their concerns contact them and let them know what you have done to address it, that it’s over and it won’t happen again in the future.
Ultimately, the more you engage with parents throughout the academic year, the more likely it is that they will speak with you in a manner that is befitting. Sometimes, however, you may not be able to avoid an angry parent so by following the tips above, you can manage the situation as best as possible.