There has been a lot of conflict as of late in our country, and in this blog, we will give a few techniques on how to de-escalate situations verbally and non-verbally. One important thing to know is that you are in charge of how you react to a person who is being difficult. In order to be successful in calming a person down is keeping your attitude in check, remain positive and give the person your undivided attention. When communicating verbally and non-verbally (i.e. Body Language) be professional, unbiased, and as mentioned before, staying positive at all times. The end goal is to change the persons behavior and have them be compliant by using these verbal practices.
The following are some tips to use when dealing with person behaving in an unreasonable manner:
Name: Attain their name. It is key to get their name as they will respond positively, this will also make the conversation you are having more personable. The earlier you make that connection, the better.
Listen: This is the most important step to the process. Listen to and focus on what the person is saying, do not think about what your going to say next and do not cut them off, give them their chance to speak.
Stay Calm: Take slow deep breaths and monitor your breathing. By doing this you will decrease your chances of getting caught up in the heat of the moment.
Show Empathy: Give the individual respect and dignity. Show compassion and empathy to the individual but refrain from saying “I understand” or “Please calm down”. These responses can escalate the situation.
Use Active Listening and Do Not Demand Compliance: Ask the person why they are upset and listen allowing them the time to vent to you. Once the person has vented, repeat points back to them on a subconscious level which lets the person know you were listening to them as well as you understand why they are upset. After you repeat each of their points as to why they are upset, ask them if that is correct. This will get them to say “Yes” which will get them to calm down. It is hard for someone to remain angry with you if they agree with what you are saying. This technique is very successful. Saying “I’m sorry” or “I’m going to try and fix this” go a long way in a heated discussion.
Do Not Act Defensively: Keep in mind that this matter is not personal even if the person is saying bad things to you or about you. Raising your voice and pointing your finger or acting disrespectfully will just add to the heated discussion. Do not argue with the individual or try to convince the person of anything. Maintain a low, calm, and monotone voice. Never try to talk over the person, wait until they are done, then speak.
Set Limits and Boundaries: The above tips have all mentioned for you to listen and let the individual vent BUT you also have the right to say “Please do not talk to me like that”.
Trust Your Instincts: If you get a feeling that the conversation is escalating and there is nothing you can do to calm the individual down; you need to look for an exit strategy. This is also something you should do first when you begin the conversation. Be sure you have an easy way to get out of harms way if needed.
Debrief: After the situation is over, think of what took place, what was the individual upset about? What did you say that was effective/in-effective? What was the result of the situation?
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