At an unsettling time of reopening under pandemic restrictions, Local Government frontline staff are learning to effectively handle challenging conversations around COVID-safe directives.

The inaugural CSBA Conflict Management for COVID Conversations workshop which kicked-off in November was presented in partnership with local government professional association LGPro. The interactive session offers proven conversational and de-escalation strategies to manage tricky interactions with residents and visitors.

“It starts from having a positive mindset to shift the focus from what they CAN’T do, to what CAN be done to help,” says CSBA training and development consultant, Pier Dartnell.

“Avoid trigger words that are fire starters and replace them with de-escalation language.”

“And stick to the facts. Don’t get sidelined by strong words and emotions, and don’t take things personally,” she said.

The workshop will begin by helping participants understand themselves and others better – their stress response and the neuroscience behind this – and cover:

  • Putting the person before process
  • The ELARA strategy – Engage, Listen, Acknowledge, Respect, Ask for help
  • De-escalation language and empathy
  • De-escalation strategies
  • Setting boundaries for personal safety – there is zero tolerance for aggressive or intimidating behaviour

CSBA General Manager of QA and Training, Narelle Warburton, said that while the workshop offered specific guidance for managing challenging customer conversations, just as important, was the opportunity for Local Government frontline staff across Australia to share their experiences and learn from one another.

“COVID-19 has put a tremendous amount of pressure on frontline staff. It was becoming evident as early as mid-2020, so we designed a much-needed training course to help agents develop their empathy and resilience skills to better cope with the difficult conversations they were having with vulnerable customers, all while working from home away from their normal work support systems. Now as States re-open, the need for managing challenging service situations has resulted in the creation of a new course to provide guidance for difficult person-to-person conversations with frustrated or impatient people,” she said.

While CSBA is proud to have developed this course in conjunction with LGPro for the Local Government sector, the CSBA Conflict Management for COVID Conversations workshop can be delivered in partnership with other industries or organisations.

To learn more, please contact

For Victorian Local Council bookings, please contact

About CSBA – The Customer Experience Experts

For more than two decades, CSBA has helped organisations of all shapes and sizes create better customer experiences through independent, specialised CX strategy, research, insights, quality assurance and training.

CSBA now works with more than 150 clients across 15 different industries, including specialised CX programs for the local government, higher education, superannuation, energy and water sectors.

Want to explore how CSBA can help you provide your customers with better experiences?