You are trying to decide if offering your employees de-escalation training is worth the money. You work for a small, fairly peaceful company, but you know unfortunate incidents happen in companies of all sizes.
If you can’t decide if de-escalation training is cost-effective, you should know that work is not the only place where the skills you learn will help you. You can apply many de-escalation techniques to your personal life.
According to Pollack Peacebuilding Systems–De-Escalation Experts, there are five basic de-escalation skills. Each one of them can work in both personal and business situations.
Most people do not raise their voices at work. If they do, it can be alarming. De-escalation trainers will tell you to speak in a soft and even tone when talking to an upset coworker. A trainer can help you work on perfecting your tone.
It is more common for people to raise their voices in a personal conflict. It doesn’t matter if it is a parent and child, roommates who live together, or two people in a romantic relationship. Once people feel comfortable around one another, they are more likely to express their displeasure.
Talking to a friend or family member in a calm voice will soothe them and make them feel listened to. They will naturally match your tone, and the two of you will have a better chance of working out your differences. If you yell at them, they will only yell at you, and the situation will not resolve.
Your body language should be relaxed
Any de-escalation trainer will tell you that body language is important when dealing with a potentially violent situation. People respond to body language just as much as verbal communication.
It is only natural for your body to tense up when someone is upset with you or if they are gesticulating violently. If you are arguing with someone, you may put your hands on your hips or cross your arms over your chest. This will make you seem angry.
A trainer will tell you not to rush towards an upset person or try to touch them. A coworker in an agitated state may perceive these things as threats and get more upset or even become physically violent.
If you put your hands on a loved one yelling or threatening violence, you may reinforce their bad behaviour, or they may feel patronized.
When speaking to an upset friend or family member, stand back, tilt your head so they know you are listening to them, and let them finish speaking before you reply.
Let them know you understand their concern
People often get upset because they feel undervalued and disrespected. Let them know that you understand why this would upset them.
In a professional situation, you should always repeat what a person has said back to them and use their first name. This may seem formal personally, but at least paraphrase what the other person has said and let them know you are taking them seriously.
Try to offer them a few different options for getting what they want. For example, if your roommate is upset because you are too noisy, offer them several options for keeping the noise down.
Do not be judgemental
Remaining neutral in a personal situation is harder than staying objective professionally. If you have a personal relationship with someone, you know more about how they think and what they believe than you do about your coworkers. You will likely have a stronger opinion of your friends and family than your coworkers.
Although you may want to tell them what you think, you should not do it when they are agitated. It is best to try calming them down before discussing anything with them.
Allow a few seconds of silence
Whether you are dealing with a disgruntled employee or a friend, it is always a good idea to take a few moments to let what they have said register. Although it can be awkward, allowing for a few moments of silence will give you time to take a deep breath and think of a compassionate response.