De-Escalation Techniques for Conflict

 In Conflict Resolution, Customer Service

De-Escalation Techniques

It is important to realise that not every response or technique works in all situations. Consider the context, the person and the circumstances when responding to escalating behaviour.

What is De-Escalation?

angry customerWhen confronted by aggressive or violent behaviour, de-escalation can be used. “Transmitting your calm and genuine interest to what the person is trying to tell you through respectful, clear, and limit-setting boundaries, de-escalation” means “transferring my sense of calm, and my genuine interest in their behaviour, by using de-escalation.”

You can usually stop disruptive behaviour from escalating by using your nonverbal communication skills. Effective de-escalation techniques include calmly responding and organising your thoughts.

The brain goes into survival mode during a meltdown. The brain goes into survival mode, shutting down its thinking and reacting to threats (real or perceived).

This instinct is known as the primal survival instinct of fight or flight. If we were in danger, our thinking brain would function normally. We might hesitate or even try logic. This could endanger our lives.

Sometimes, a meltdown can cause an ‘alarm to go off’ even though there isn’t a real threat. It’s like having an alarm system on your home to protect you from burglars but it’s so sensitive that it goes off any time a bird lands on your roof.

These techniques will help you deactivate the alarm for the customer.

10 Techniques for De-Escalation

  1. Be compassionate and non-judgmental. “Aim to understand the other person’s feelings. You can’t judge if those feelings are legitimate or not, but they are real to the other person.”
  2. Respect your personal space. “If you can, keep at least 1.5 to 3 feet from the person. . . Giving people space can reduce anxiety and help to prevent them from acting out. Don’t block exits.” Maintain a neutral tone and body language.
  3. Do not answer difficult questions. “Asking difficult questions can often lead to a power struggle. Redirect their attention to the problem at hand if they challenge your authority. Don’t ignore the problem, but the person. Customer: “Why are other customers served first?” You:
  4. Set boundaries. If the behaviour of the person is disruptive, aggressive, or belligerent, you should give them clear, concise, and easily enforceable limits. Give clear and respectful choices and consequences. Possible answer: “It is important that you are calm so we can talk.” How does that happen?
  5. Be in sync with the person. Find a common ground with the person. Find a way to reach a consensus and get to a “yes”. You can understand their frustration. Yes, it is scary to hear what they are going through. It’s hot out there, even though it is scary.
  6. Engage Supportively. Encourage others to be supportive. With full attention, listen to the story. Do not interrupt or change the subject. Allow them to speak what they want.
  7. Use the right tone. Monitor your voice tone. Be calm and measured in your voice tone. Your pace might be slowed down a little. Keep your heart rate steady and take a deep breath.
  8. Be Supportive. Project a supportive attitude. Communicate, in your voice, behaviour and manner, that you are available for help. You are important.
  9. Validate their feelings but not their actions. Your customer will feel validated if you give validation of their feelings.
  10. Avoid making demands. Sometimes, too many demands can lead to meltdown. However, it doesn’t matter what the reason is, you should avoid making additional demands in dysregulated situations.

It is crucial that staff become master communicators because of the potential liability and risk involved for incidents. This skill must include de-escalation. Staff will be better equipped to understand the physiological characteristics and triggers of anger so that they can participate in the “rewiring”, which is essential for restoring reasoning. These skills require practice and training, and they are reminders about the many challenges that come with working with the public.

Learn how to de-escalate disruptive behaviour by teaching your employees about personal space, body language and listening skills. Take part in one of our customised training courses or sessions.


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