Crisis De-Escalation: Responding to Bullying, Threats, & Aggression

In the light of many recent instances of bullying, threats, aggression, and other hardships, it almost feels glib to believe that de-escalation is ever simple. The reality is that there’s no magic recipe to keep troubling occurrences from happening. However, there’s a way you can respond to instances of threats, bullying, and aggression that’s positive, constructive, and impacts meaningful resolution. Here are crisis de-escalation techniques you can try.

Be non-judgmental and empathetic.   

Don’t judge or be dismissive of the feelings of the individual in distress. Keep in mind that the individual’s feelings are real, whether or not you believe those feelings are justified. So, respect the feelings, considering that whatever the individual is going through could be important to them.

Respect personal space

Understand your position, proximity, and posture when interacting with the individual in distress. Respecting one’s personal space decreases anxiety and shows respect. And if you must enter the person’s personal space to offer care, explain to them what you are doing so that the individual feels less frightened and confused.

Implement non-threatening nonverbals

Being in distress makes it challenging for a person to hear what you say, which means they are likely to react to your non-verbal communication. Therefore, you must be mindful of your facial expressions, gestures, movements, and overall tone of your voice. So, keeping your body language and tone neutral can help defuse the situation.

Set limits

As an individual progresses through crisis or hardships, give simple, respectful, and reasonable limits. Provide respectful and concise choices and consequences. An individual who is upset may not focus on everything you are saying. So, be clear in your communication, and provide positive decisions first.

Allow some level of silence for reflection.

Everyone has experienced an awkward moment of silence. Although it might seem counterintuitive to allow moments of silence, sometimes it is the best choice. Indeed, it can give the individual in distress to reflect on what is happening and how they wish to proceed. Remember, silence can be an effective communication tool.

Wrap up

Although you can’t control what happens in the real world, you can control how you respond to situations. These techniques are generally applicable to de-escalate potential conflict situations between individuals.