As we have talked before, one of the leading causes of violent behavior is STRESS. Change of any kind, good or bad, can cause stress and we are ALL going through a lot of changes right now.
When we are confronted with an angry person or a person we think has the potential to become angry, it is much better if we can get things calmed down using communication skills instead of physical force.
The following suggestions don’t work on every person in every instance, but they do work many times. The more you practice using this technique, the more successful you will be!
Defusing Confrontation Tips!
- Project calmness, move and speak slowly, quietly, and confidently. We tend to mirror one another’s behavior!
- Ask them to sit down.
- If they have an “audience”, try and get them away from their “fans”. If one is available, you might suggest an office would give more privacy.
- Do not do anything that could be construed as threatening such as quick movements, hands-on-hips, loud volume.
- Be an empathetic listener. Encourage the person to talk and listen patiently. Don’t SAY, “I understand”, give the impression you understand by the look on your face and your total demeanor. Sometimes the mere fact someone is interested enough to listen to their problems helps to calm folks down.
- Allowing a person to vent or “blow off steam” may help calm them down. Venting may also cause some people to get even MORE fired up, so watch out for this! If that “audience” is around, keep an eye on them too.
- Focus your attention on the other person to let them know you are interested in what they have to say. Try and ignore distractions.
- Make sure there are 3 to 6 feet between you and the other person. Getting too close may cause tension and also may allow the other person to grab or strike you.
- Use delaying tactics which will give the person time to calm down. For example, offer a drink of water (in a disposable cup).
- If this technique is not working, think about getting away from the violent person.
- If violence on your part seems unavoidable, don’t telegraph your intentions. Try and refrain from using phrases such as, “I’m not gonna tell you again” or “This is the last time I’m gonna tell you!”. If you make those statements and don’t follow up on what you said, you have lost the other person’s respect and it will be hard to manage the situation. On the other hand, some people require physical management. If you have made your mind up the only way to deal with this particular situation is by putting your hands on the other person, why give them a warning and lose the advantage of surprise?
The author, Jim Leach, has also written: “You Can Tell ME, A Simple Guide to Effective Interviewing” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle versions. More blogs and podcasts relating to law enforcement issues can be found on the Facebook page, “Tennessee Underground”.