CitySalt | Five De-Escalation Tips
There are times when we are confronted with situations in public where people are emotionally charged due to a personal crisis, mental health issue, or chemical impairment. The following tips can help you be more successful de-escalating a potentially dangerous situation rather than unintentionally becoming part of the problem. As Christ-Followers, we want to be people who have a heart for God and are equipped to serve other people well in difficult situations. Thank you for being a lifelong learner.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people.
1. RESPECT & EMPATHY: People pick up on attitude. An attitude of respect goes a long way, particularly when it is coupled with empathy toward another person’s distress or agitation.
2. DON’T ARGUE WITH EXPERIENCE: Facts are important, but how a person feels is the heart of the matter. Avoid telling a person how they’re feeling. “How can I help you?” or “I can appreciate why you’d feel that way” Are good phrases when someone is upset. Avoid phrases like, “I understand.” This is likely to get a sharp response like, “NO YOU DON’T!” and can further escalate the person.When people are experiencing breaks with reality, the temptation is to “talk sense into them”. It’s impossible to talk someone out of a delusion or hallucination.
3. PERSONAL SPACE AND NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION: An arm’s length is the distance of most people’s personal comfort zone. When emotionally escalated, people require even more. The more a person loses control, the less they hear your words.. Be mindful of your gestures, facial expressions, movements (especially hands), and tone of voice. Keep your hands out of pockets and loose, with your feet in a relaxed but solid position. Give plenty of space for the other person to “get away”.
4. GIVE CHOICES: If a person's behavior is belligerent, defensive, or disruptive, give them
clear, simple, and enforceable limits. Offer concise and respectful choices and consequences. Something like, “I need you to move along or I will have to call the police” is a clear and simple choice. It's important to be thoughtful in deciding what is negotiable and what is not. If you can offer a person options and flexibility, you may be able to avoid unnecessary altercations. “You can’t stay in front of the building to fix your bike, but over in the side parking lot is fine.”
5. MIND YOUR OWN STATE OF BEING: Remaining calm and rational will have a direct effect on defusing tense situations. Your demeanor and internal state, physically impacts the other person, so watch your own state of being. Ignore challenges, but not the person. Keep focus on solving the problem. Silence and time often bring calm to a tense situation. Ground ~ Center ~ Orient
CALL 911 for Criminal Activity or Violence
Call CAHOOTS for Mental Health Crisis - 541-682-5111
(Eugene Police Non-Emergency Line)