Conflict can rear its ugly head in almost any situation, both in your personal and professional life. However, while it’s virtually impossible to prevent all forms of conflict, it is possible to mitigate the fallout from it. Verbal de-escalation training from Defuse can greatly improve the workplace and ensure that conflicts don’t get out of control too quickly. Best of all, anyone can undergo this training, from entry-level workers all the way to top executives.
However, learning how to talk to others during a conflict is just part of what it takes to verbally de-escalate a situation. There are more strategies to master, and it requires ongoing practice to get them right.
So, with that in mind, let’s break down six top strategies for verbal de-escalation to get the best results possible.
What is Verbal De-Escalation?
There are two primary ways to de-escalate a conflict – verbally, meaning using your words, or physically, meaning with restraint. Although physical de-escalation can be necessary for violent conflicts, it can often be avoided with the right verbal strategies.
Overall, the primary goal of verbal de-escalation is to identify the source of the problem, calm the involved parties, and figure out a resolution, even if temporary. Although these tasks can seem a bit overwhelming at first, they’re more than achievable with the right mindset and practice.
It’s also worth noting that de-escalation does not necessarily mean the conflict has to resolve completely. Instead, the goal is to calm everyone down so that a conflict resolution strategy can be discussed. In the heat of the moment, it’s virtually impossible for cooler heads to prevail.
6 Constructive Strategies for Verbal De-Escalation
Because verbal de-escalation can be so valuable during a conflict, it’s imperative to know and understand the best practices for achieving the right outcome. Here’s a breakdown of six elements to master when learning how to de-escalate a situation:
1. Respect Personal Space
First and foremost, you need to show respect to everyone involved. If someone feels disrespected or belittled, they are far less likely to engage in positive communication or look for common ground.
Also, because we’re focusing on verbal methods, you need to show that you’re not trying to physically restrain someone (unless absolutely necessary). Overall, a person’s behavior can tell you a lot about how they will react to what you’re saying. If you’re in their personal space, it’s much harder to have a calm and collected conversation.
2. Showcase a Calm and Genuine Interest
One of the best verbal de-escalation techniques is to illustrate that you’re genuinely interested in calming the situation and finding a resolution that fits everyone’s interests. Even if a person challenges your recommendations, you can still adapt and find a new angle to reach the desired solution.
Part of the de-escalation process is going back and forth and trying to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. Problem-solving is essential for long-term resolution strategies. However, keep in mind that the best option may be to simply manage the conflict, not resolve it. In that case, neither party is necessarily “happy” with the results, but they can move past what occurred and find common ground.
Overall, de-escalation is not possible without showing genuine intent and authenticity. If you come across as annoyed or rushed, you can wind up making the situation worse. Typically, an agitated person will calm down when they feel heard and respected. So, by showing an interest in their side of things, you can get them to relax a bit and start working through the problem step-by-step.
3. Respect and Acknowledge Each Person’s Feelings
Another one of the best de-escalation techniques is to be respectful of everyone involved. There’s a tendency to make assumptions and snap judgments, particularly depending on who is involved in the conflict and how they’re acting.
For example, one may assume that the loudest or angriest person is the one who started or escalated the conflict. However, it’s possible that they were repeatedly provoked by the other person, even if that person is keeping their body language neutral.
So, before making any decisions or judgments, it’s imperative to respect and acknowledge everyone’s feelings. Dismissing someone for being too angry or “hysterical” will only make the situation worse and will not position you as someone capable of de-escalating it.
The best way to acknowledge everyone’s feelings is to ask them what they’re feeling and why. Then, you need to show that you understand by breaking down those feelings from an objective perspective. Basically, try to put yourself in their position to see why they’re reacting this way. Having that kind of empathy will allow you to de-escalate the conflict more easily.
4. Make Concise and Respectful Choices
Although the conflict resolution process can be long and complex, de-escalation is all about bringing the energy of a situation down so it can be resolved. For this reason, you need to act swiftly by making concise decisions based on the elements you know.
That said, snap judgments and decisions can lead to negative outcomes, so it’s crucial to be as respectful as possible. Overall, stay neutral and focus on an immediate solution that both parties can agree to for the time being. If necessary, you may have to remind those involved that a comprehensive conflict resolution can come at a later time.
5. Maintain Constant Eye Contact
Nonverbal communication involves eye contact and body language, so you must be mindful of the information you’re presenting at all times, not just the words you’re saying.
That said, eye contact can be seen as aggressive by some people, so don’t overdo it. Instead, use eye contact to punctuate your authenticity and genuine intent so you can build trust with each person. This way, they’re more likely to listen to what you’re saying and you can move things along more easily.
6. Don’t Forget About Positive Body Language
In addition to eye contact, you have to be aware of what your body is saying as you de-escalate the conflict. For example, if you’re saying that you understand the other person but your body language is aggressive or defensive, you may come across as misleading or deceptive.
Positive body language can include open arms, open hands, gentle touches (within reason), and even neutral hand positions. Conversely, if you’re crossing your arms, moving your hands aggressively, or moving closer toward a person, those signs could be construed as acts of aggression. When that happens, it’s hard for a person’s anxiety to come down.
Benefits of Verbal De-Escalation
When it comes to workplace conflict, investing in verbal de-escalation training can yield some pretty positive results. Some of the best benefits and advantages include:
Unfortunately, conflicts can quickly escalate if no one steps in and intervenes. Arguments can easily become physical altercations, which can cause massive headaches for your business. First, claims of assault could lead to legal action. Second, you may need to terminate the employment of one or more people, which could lead to low worker morale or staff shortages.
Finally, an altercation can damage your company’s reputation, especially if it occurs in front of customers or clients. Even if you resolve the situation quickly, the damage could be virtually irreparable if a conflict comes to blows.
It Can Help With Non-Conflict Related Communication
Because verbal de-escalation training focuses on nonverbal communication, eye contact, and positive language, these elements can easily translate to other interactions within the workplace.
Trainees can learn how to explain themselves to others, as well as communicate more openly with their co-workers. Also, learning how to ask the right questions and dive deeper into someone’s perspective can help trainees interact with their co-workers and managers.
Overall, by investing in high-quality communication, employees and supervisors can discuss ideas and challenges more openly. When this happens, there are no obstacles that can’t be overcome, meaning that your business will thrive over the long term.
Enables Better Collaboration
There’s a tendency for individuals to avoid confrontation with others, no matter how small. Even a little pushback could be seen as conflict, so employees might not be as open to communicating or collaborating with their co-workers.
Fortunately, after undergoing de-escalation training, it should be easier for trainees to reach out and start a conversation with someone else. Since they’re trained on how to talk to people in stressful situations, it’s much easier to do so when there is no conflict at all.
Trainees can also help bring people together and start a dialog among their co-workers. This kind of open collaboration means more ideas are shared, better solutions are found, and productivity increases.
Are you ready to see what verbal de-escalation training can do for your workplace? We offer comprehensive training packages to fit your needs and your budget. Contact us today to find out more.