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  • Garry Lee Abbs, MBA - Service Advisor USA

AIR VIBE: 4 Ways to De-escalate.

No Pain - No Gain

Working in the hospitality industry can be emotionally and physically demanding. Long work hours and upset guests can be tolling on your energy and mental mindset. For most hospitality professionals, they love the grind.

The Trade Off

So why are hospitality professionals willing to put in those long work hours and deal with the annoying public?

It is because they thrive, look forward to, and absolutely love, helping and serving people. For them, there is nothing more fulfilling than bringing a smile on a customer's face with service the heart.

Smile and Vibe

While working serving people with an upbeat and positive mindset, there is a vibe that becomes addictive. It is something they crave, a desire, a need, and a desperate want.....All excellent customer service performing Hospitality professionals love to serve, make people happy. Although it can not be seen, the "Air Vibe" can be felt, especially when it is positive.

Air Vibe?

I explain this vibe in the air like this....Have you ever been to a funeral? Well, the vibe in the air can be serious, low energy, and sad. On the other hand, going to a party, the air can be a vibe of upbeat, excitement, and adventure.

This "air vibe" is something only people can create, and put off into the air for others to feel. Air Vibe is how people are feeling within, which permeates into the air and is felt by other human beings.

When we feel energetic, excited, upbeat, and confident, people can sense it from the aura around you. This is AIR VIBE! And the opposite is true. In other words, your internal response and emotional mindset, even though can not be seen, can be felt by others.

Upset Customers

Humans are not perfect. The hospitality industry is based upon human interactions. Customer service will occasionally fail, and when it does, customers may get upset. Many times, an upset customer may create a negative "Air Vibe". Based upon how aggressive or agitated the customer becomes, the emotions will be felt by the hospitality professional.

4 Ways to De-escate

To react negatively to the Air Vibe would be like blowing air into a balloon until it pops! On the contrary, choosing a positive approach to the customer Air Vibe, will de-escalate and "take the air out of the balloon".

1. Listen

Actively listen to what the customer is actually communicating. Be quiet while the customer is speaking by being attentive with eye contact, and a facial expression of projecting understanding. Do not interject, but allow the customer to vent their emotional frustrations. Remember never allow their emotions to charge your emotions. You are in control of your emotions, and only you can choose your response, so be cool, calm, and collected.

2. Connect

As the customer is venting their complaint while you are intently and quietly listening to them, you should be taking notes. This will show the customer that you are truly listening. Once the customer has completed their emotional venting, it will be your turn to choose your emotional response and words to connect and de-escalate the situation.

There are many different philosophies, styles, and approaches that hospitality professionals use to recovering a customer. Your style will be different from anyone else's, and will get better the more you use it. They key is to build confidence, and not emotions stand in your way when de-escalating Air Vibe.

Make sure you are making the customer feel comfortable, and you are on their side to make things right.

3. Solve

Thank you

So, Mrs. Jones, thank you for bringing this concern to my attention and taking the time to explain this unfortunate situation to me.

Re-State and Check for Understanding

From my understanding, you ordered the steak to be prepared well-done, and you received it rear.


Mrs. Jones, you have come to our restaurant to experience the best steak in the city, and we have failed you.

I know you are very disappointed, as I would be too, if I came here with high expectation, and they were not met.


On behalf of ABC Steakhouse, I want to extend my most sincere apologies to you, and your family for this service failure on our behalf. We pride ourselves on being the best steakhouse, however, our we did not provide the quality that you truly deserve.


Mrs. Jones, I do not want you leaving our restaurant on a bad note, and I would like to make it up to you. Let me have our chef prepare a brand new steak, and bring it to you. In the meantime, I will have the Sommelier come by your table and offer you a bottle of wine compliments of myself.

Ensure your solution is something which is very fair and compensate your guest sufficiently. Every so often, you will find certain guests trying to take advantage of your goodwill. If so, explain to the customer your intent to make them happy and a returning guest, however, you feel you have offered a very fair and generous option for them, and due to business financials, are unable to offer any further compensation at this time.

4. Follow up

Check on the customer throughout the rest of their stay at the restaurant. Ensure to give a fond farewell upon their departure. If you have their contact info, a nice touch would to send a nice "thank you" text or mailed letter to their address.

Taking the "air out of the balloon" and de-escalating Air Vibe is an art. The better you are at it, the more successful you will be in dealing with life issues and customer complaints involving emotions.

Keep practicing it, and get a positive mind-set to look forward to complaints, as opposed to avoiding them. This will help you counter-attack the issue with aggressive hospitality.

Learn how to create an awesome Air Vibe in your company which results into a long-term positive work culture by contacting Service Advisor USA at