Pool users are typically looking for a fun, laid-back ambiance when they visit their local pool. As a lifeguard, you appreciate these people the most. They’re reserved and usually easy to manage. Swimming pools can offer a sunny atmosphere, a soothing climate and the water’s refreshing touch. Unfortunately, this experience isn’t always guaranteed.
Some guests of the pool might not be on the same page as your better behaved ones. Disruptive guests can cause trouble by ignoring the pool rules and disturbing an otherwise enjoyable and safe place for others around them. Despite wanting to maintain peace, lifeguards need to know how to handle these disruptive pool guests politely and effectively.
7 Tips for Handling Disruptive Pool Guests
Your first and foremost responsibility as a lifeguard is to rescue those who have got into difficulty in the water. Pool Lifeguards should be observing and supervising the pool and its surrounds continuously. It is also your job to prevent anything risky from happening in the first place. Prevention is a crucial part of the lifeguard role.
But as a lifeguard, you also take on other responsibilities. One of these responsibilities to provide good customer care: making sure that everyone in, and at the pool is having a good time. Part of that responsibility includes handling the disruptive guests that might be ruining a good time. Here are some tips for lifeguards on how to manage these situations appropriately:
- Know Your Pool & its Rules
All pools are different, and while many pools will have similar rules regarding safety, they will also have their own site-specific set of rules that apply to their particular facility. Before a lifeguard can enforce the rules they must know and understand exactly what those rules are. A lifeguard must be familiar with how their rules contribute to a safe and fun environment for all: a couple of little kids talking a bit too loud might be a nuisance, but it’s best to treat them with kindness and ask them to quiet down rather than be too stern with them. Discouraging their fun completely will only give them a bad outlook on the day, and won’t reinforce a positive attitude from others toward the lifeguard.
- Know Your People
Following on from this, it helps to build a rapport with your pool guests. You should aim to have a pragmatic and amicable relationship with all of your customers, both regulars and occasional users. Doing this will ensure that you have the respect of your pool guests. People are more likely to listen to you if you don’t come off as an angry stranger.
- Use Your Tact & Your Training
When you encounter a pool guest (or group of guests) that are being truly disruptive, your first step should be to go and speak with them. Be courteous and professional. This will help diffuse any potential problems. Explain the dangers of not following the rules and ask them to consider the enjoyment of other guests. If necessary give the guest a warning about future rule breaking and its consequences. An effective lifeguard is firm but fair with the rules, and is consistent in their application of them. They feel secure enough in their training to correct any rowdy anti-social behaviour.
- Maintain Observation
Once you notice a disruptive pool guest, it’s hard to pay attention to anything else. The guest (or guests) behaving badly becomes a distraction for the lifeguard. Remember, the lifeguard is responsible for everyone’s safety. Do what you can to resolve the situation immediately. Acting quickly means the situation is less likely to escalate into something more serious. Don’t allow your attention to other pool users be compromised by focusing for too long on one person, or one area.
- Stay Calm
A lifeguard must address the problem and not ignore it. But keep in mind that getting angry will only make the situation worse. Lifeguards should be non-confrontational. Your guest is already being disruptive, so chances are any additional aggression won’t be helpful. Plus, you never know what’s going on in the heads of other people. Being too confrontational with a guest (particularly when alcohol is involved) could place you and other pool users in an unsafe situation.
- Call for Assistance from Your Team, and Then If Necessary, The Police
De-escalation should always be your first approach for handling disruptive guests. Unfortunately, it’s not a foolproof method. Sometimes, things don’t go the way you would want, no matter what you do. In this scenario you should call for extra help from other staff members. They can protect other guests from any conflicts. Some of them may also be better equipped to take care of the disruptive guests (security staff for example).
If this fails, don’t hesitate the call the police. This is a proactive way of making certain nobody is in harm’s way. The presence of official law personnel has the advantage of shutting down any nonsense, quickly and efficiently.
- Report & Record any Incidents
Your pool should have a procedure in place to record incidents such as disorderly behaviour. Having an account of exactly what happened may help avoid a similar situation in the future. You’ll have a record of what happened. You can then use this to think about how you dealt with the situation. Were your actions effective? Would you do anything differently next time? There is always something to learn from past incidents, whether they were handled well or not.
The on-duty lifeguard is sometimes put in stressful situations just like any other customer service job. You are obligated to deal with the opinions and complaints of a wide range of personality types. But most importantly, as a lifeguard, you are the person responsible for safety – everyone’s safety – including your own. By learning how to deal effectively with disruptive, badly behaved guests you are able to perform the lifeguard role to the best of your ability.
Co-Founder & Managing Director