Handling a Disgruntled Resident At Your Event
My very first apartment party was a little more eventful than I would have liked. The community was probably a Class C property if I’m being generous, and things didn’t turn out quite as imagined! In this case, I was an outside contractor hired to plan and host the resident event, which means that I didn’t know either the residents or even the staff all that well. The property manager wasn’t there, so I was effectively in charge, trying to get all the puzzle pieces ready for the residents to arrive!
About mid-way through the party, I heard some yelling closer to the leasing office, and was surprised to see that it was a member of the staff involved! It turns out that a resident at the community and a leasing consultant were yelling at each other for reasons I still have yet to figure out. But in reality, it didn’t matter what the argument was about, the main issue was to get things under control – FAST!
As the manager was out of the office, and one of the staff was actually involved, the problem was suddenly thrust onto my shoulders. So first thing I did was whisper to my assistant to get the DJ to crank up the music and start a distraction. While that was in the works, I went to separate the two. If you are in a situation like this, be very careful if the argument is excessively heated. Although it may only be verbal at that point, things can escalate quickly. So make sure you are safe in the situation. If the situation is physical, do not be afraid to call the police.
In this case, it hadn’t gotten physical, so I wanted to diffuse the situation without the authorities. Not only would that completely disrupt the event, but it would also show as another police visit to that property. So I first got in the middle of the two and distracted the resident long enough to ask his name. Once he gave that to me, I was able to guide him in the other direction and listen to his concerns. They seemed to involve some existing issue with that particular leasing consultant, but the explanation was somewhat convoluted. But again, it didn’t really matter what the issue was, he just wanted to vent.
I’ve found that a lot of on-site management is simply listening. The longer you can go without responding and just taking what the resident has to heart, the better response you will get. Even the most verbose people will eventually peter out if you do not say anything back to them. So let them get it all out of their system, and then see what really needs to happen in order to resolve the situation. In some cases, I’ve found that once I have listened, that in itself has resolved the issue – they simply wanted to be heard.
In this case, I don’t remember the specifics, but I suggested that he talk to the property manager the next Monday. That seemed to work as he left back to his apartment. I let the property manager know what happened afterwards, and I believe they worked it out.
For the leasing consultant, her coworkers calmed her down enough to continue with the apartment party, which was surprisingly undisturbed due to our distraction techniques! I don’t think she was fired for the incident, but I hope she was trained better on how to handle resident interactions!
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