Deescalation Tips


Many times a physical confrontation can be avoided if one person can keep their cool and RESPOND rather than react to a situation.  The following are a few helpful suggestions.

  1. Monitor your own feelings and ensure that your anger is under control. Breathe deeply into your lower abdomen and relax your shoulders.
  2. Try to be part of the solution, not the problem. Perform a quick self-assessment by asking yourself the following questions.:
    1. Can I avoid criticizing and finding fault with the angry person?
    2. Can I avoid being judgmental?
    3. Can I keep from trying to control the other person into doing something he or she doesn't want to do?
    4. Can I keep myself removed from the conflict?
    5. Can I try to see the situation from the angry person's point of view and understand what need or needs he or she is trying to satisfy
  3. Body language is vitally important in a confrontation as visual messages can send the wrong impression. Assume a neutral stance with your feet hip width apart. Have the palms of your hands facing the other person at about chest height – the universal peaceful posture. Do not stare into the other person’s eyes, but instead gaze in the general direction of the person’s eyes.  Assuming this posture will give you the best opportunity for defence as the hands will able to deflect any strike while the open gaze will allow you to sense if a kick is imminent.
  1. .Active listening is the process of really attempting to hear, acknowledge and understand what a person is saying. It is a genuine attempt to put oneself in the other person's situation. More than anything, this involves LISTENING! Listening means attending not only to the words the other person is saying but also the underlying emotion, as well as, the accompanying body language.

    By simply providing a sounding board and a willing ear, a person's anger can be dissipated.
  2. Agreeing---often when people are angry about something, there is at least 2 % truth in what they are saying. When attempting to diffuse someone's anger, it is important to find that 2 % of truth and agree with it.

    When someone is angry and the listener attempts to reason with the person, his or her efforts will be largely ineffective. When the listener agrees with the 2% of truth in the angry person's tirade, he or she takes away the resistance and consequently eliminates the fuel for the fire.
  3. Apologizing is a good de-escalation skill. I'm not talking about apologizing for an imaginary wrong. I am talking about sincerely apologizing for anything in the situation that was unjust. It's simply a statement acknowledging that something occurred that wasn't right or fair.

    This can have the effect of letting angry people know that the listener is sincerely sorry for what they are going through and they may cease to direct their anger at the person attempting to help.

Most confrontations are a result of communication breakdowns.  Following these steps will give you the chance to truly understand the other person’s problems and thereby be able to treat them with respect and dignity and hopefully they will respond in kind to you.