Crisis Prevention Institute recently partnered with the National Retail Foundation to develop training to prevent and de-escalate COVID-19 related customer conflict specific to front-line, customer-facing retail workers and job seekers.

The newly created training utilizes proven techniques from CPI.

CPI reports that inquiries on de-escalation information have doubled since the pandemic was declared. With an earlier start to the holiday season, CPI and the NRF Foundation partnered to provide training ahead of this critical time to help retail workers prevent and de-escalate conflict, particularly around social distancing, mask and capacity issues.

“COVID-19 anxiety continues to rise in businesses and elsewhere across the United States,” said Susan Driscoll, president of CPI. “Overall tensions are a frequent concern for essential workers who are faced with activating and managing mask mandates, while also trying to keep the peace among customers.”

For the customized COVID-19 Customer Conflict Prevention training, CPI will specifically focus on identifying the stages of someone in crisis, strategies to prevent a crisis, verbal de-escalation skills and other techniques to keep employees and customers safe; illustrating these tools through social distancing and mask wearing scenarios.

The NRF is offering the training to its 16,000 retail members and 800 training partners who are located in a variety of retail establishments, schools and other workforce organizations nationwide. The online trainings and tools for NRF members are now available at

“In a year that has been full of uncertainty, customers and employees want to feel safe shopping at stores,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, which is offering the de-escalation training as part of NRF Foundation’s RISE Up educational platform. “Retailers are doing everything in their power to ensure safety in their stores, and this training will equip employees with the tools to confidently mitigate conflicts that may arise.”

CPI has trained more than 15 million individuals through four decades in its techniques spanning many industries and professions, especially health care and education. CPI tracks violent incidents in the industries it trains, and data shows that de-escalation skills when used correctly can quickly decrease violence regardless of the industry. CPI’s de-escalation training focuses on a multifaceted approach that includes active and empathetic listening, withholding judgement, allowing silence, clarifying messages, developing a plan, recognizing personal-limits and de-briefing.

CPI offers two main de-escalation trainings, Verbal Intervention and Nonviolent Crisis Intervention. Verbal Intervention teaches verbal and non-verbal techniques to respond to disruptive behavior, preventing further escalation. Nonviolent Crisis Intervention training focuses on providing expertise to de-escalate crises, including verbal techniques and restrictive interventions that can be implemented with the least use of force necessary.

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