Whether we like to admit it or not, most people have occasionally mistreated service staff. According to research, these behaviors have risen over the past few years; more than half of employees who deal with customers say that since the pandemic’s start, there has been an increase in abuse.

Reena B. Patel, behavior analyst and psychologist, explains that routine changes may cause anxiety and tension. “You walk into a restaurant for breakfast thinking you’ll get seated in 15 minutes and instead you’re waiting for 45; now, your whole routine is shifting, and the stress is building up,” Patel explains. The good news is that there are ways to either completely avoid explosions or, at the very least, reduce them quickly. You might as well get up 10 minutes early to allow yourself some breathing room in your schedule so that you can manage it. By adjusting your coffee order or walking to lunch rather than taking the train, you can also practice and improve your flexibility. When you eventually lose your temper, use “we” instead of “you.” “Ask the customer-service agent, ‘how can we solve this problem? ‘” says Patel. Lastly, call them by their names. It serves as a reminder that they’re humans, too.

Before you lash out at someone, recognize that you could already be stressed and try to relax. “It’s as simple as just being mindful,” says Patel, “and stopping and thinking before you respond is really important.”