In the wake of current events, the world needs now more than ever a culture of love and harmony. Specially, after the previous two-years of pandemic, majority of the people have faced severe personal, financial, emotional and mental traumas. A huge chuck of the population has spent most of their days in a situation of house arrest: work from home, no social gatherings, no family meetups; and no means of recreation. All this has taken a toll on the mental health of the community.
In situation like these, it is easier for things to get heated and fly out of hands pretty quick – be it at work or at your personal dealings. Therefore, learning a few effective skills to de-escalate intense situations would ensure you take care of the matters without any major damage.
How to De-Escalate Intense Situations?
Step 1: Identify the Crisis
The first step to de-escalate an intense situation is to identify when a crisis is about to begin. A crisis – can be either physical or just verbal. In both cases, it may result in irreversible damages. If an individual is already dealing with a personal crisis, he can be tricky to deal with at public or shared spaces. Knowing when to neutrally intervene and defuse things instead of escalating the crisis is a tactful job.
Step 2: Resolve the Crisis
The second step is to take measures in your hands and make a move to neutralize the situation. But – knowing when, where and how to interfere is of primary significance. You cannot reason with an agitated, angry or annoyed person. You would further aggravate his anger and cause more damage than good. This is why you need to learn a few effective skills before you jump on the bandwagon.
Let’s have a look on tips being proven effective in de-escalating intense situations:
1- Change Your Position
The first step to stop a conflict from turning into a crisis is to remove the person on the verge of a breakdown from his current position. Change of location and the absence of the individual or situation triggering his rage can remarkably help in calming him down.
If you find yourself in an intense situation, practice the same with yourself. Walk out of the situation. Sit, if you were standing earlier. This small tip would help you remarkably well.
How many times have you been told just to breathe and take it slowly? Probably a million! But, the thing is no matter how corny it sounds, it always works. Breathing in the time of emotional crisis regulates your blood flow; eases your nerves and give you a minute to re-think. It instantly puts you in a better control of your mood and emotions.
There are special breathing exercises to relive stress and anxiety. The same can be practiced to control rage and sudden outbursts of anger.
3- Practice Empathy
It is very important to be empathetic and non-judgmental when dealing with an individual battling a crisis. However, null and vain his feelings or claims might sound to you, it means something substantial for him. Lack of validation and gaslighting often times trigger the worse cases of personal crisis and its aftereffects can result in public aggression and violence. So, offer empathy and a non-judgmental zone for the person to defuse an intense situation.
4- Adopt a Neutral Body Language
Body language – your gestures, eye contact and facial expressions can dramatically handle a difficult situation. The angrier a person gets, the more control he loses over his mind. In this situation, it is near to impossible to pay any heed or comprehend verbal discussion. However, kinder eye expressions; gentle body language can tremendously calm down an overly agitate person.
5- Avoid Being Inquisitive
It is a known fact that having a discussion helps both parties – the therapist and the patient, in this case the person on the verge of a breakdown resolve an issue in an amiable way. However, avoid being inquisitive when a person is having an emotional breakdown. Unable to process their own thoughts, they may not respond well to the questions. This can even further trigger anxiety within themselves.
If you find yourself in the middle of a public dispute between two parties. Avoid asking random questions to reach the bottom line even there. Because, this probing can make both parties angrier and the situation can blow out of proportion. Instead, try to resolve the matter by adopting a neutral way.
6- Manage Your Own Emotions Well
De-escalating intense situations can be very testing and nerve-wrecking at times. It is a tedious and demanding job to be surrounded with so much negativity and anger and not let it take a toll on your mental stability. Always, keep your own emotions well in check. Try not to reflect your own emotions and assertive feelings on the person in crisis in the middle of a debate. Adopt a centred approach and then extend the discussion.
7- Be Mindful of the Proximity
Personal space must always be in check when trying to de-escalate an intense situation. Make sure the person in crisis feels safe to be around you. Be very mindful of your position, posture and the distance between you and the distressed person. Respecting personal space allows other person to notice that you value and respect their space. It can also calm them down if they are frightened or on the verge of committing physical violence. If you need to invade their space for any reason, interact in a clear and calm voice. Keep your hands up with your palms facing forward so the other person knows you mean only good.
8- Learn the Significance of Silence
Comforting words and gentle gestures – however effective, cannot undermine the value of silence. Be a good listener. Allow the other person to open up to you in their own pace. Make spaces for meaningful silences. Silence can be remarkably therapeutic to resolve various issues.
9- Leave Time for Decision Making
Rushing an already troubled and emotionally unstable person can further trigger his anxiety. So, avoid rushing a distressed person to make a quick decision. Allow them to have ample time to think, reflect and evaluate their options before making an informed decision. During that time, offer them your unsolicited support.
Summing up, don’t meddle in other people’s disputes if you aren’t fully equipped with the skills required to resolve the issues. Being tactful, and mindful of other people’s emotions while extending help can go a long way. When you are trying to diffuse an intense situation, try not to let the negativity and intensity get to you. A well balanced individual can be the best healer.