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Being a public sector employee has its perks, but most government jobs are not glamorous. Government employees get some of the best job stability and benefits of any employee in the United States. Of course, they also face risks of emotionally escalated situations with coworkers, constituents, and the general public. Fortunately, training programs are available specifically for employees in government jobs to learn de-escalation strategies and tactics.

What Is De Escalation?

De escalation is the practice of preventing, defusing, or resolving a conflict as it is beginning. The goal is to get the conflicting parties to stop engaging with each other before anything serious, such as physical injuries or loss of employment, happens. De escalation techniques focus on the immediate moment. When you de escalate a situation, it does not mean that you have solved all the problems that led to the conflict in the first place. De escalation is not the same thing as mediation, even though, if you take a conflict management training course, you might learn about de escalation techniques as well as mediation strategies.

Why Is De Escalation an Important Job Skill for Government Workers?

Frustration and stress are a part of life. Mental health professionals have, as their primary job duty, helping people deal with emotional stress and interpersonal conflict, but de escalation is an important skill in almost any profession, not just those where you deal directly with matters related to behavioral health and mental illness.

If you are dealing in person with members of the public, even people you have not previously served, then you can tell from their body language and their tone of voice when they are angry. When someone is behaving in a confrontational way, it is natural to fear for your safety, even if you know that you, or even the agency with which you are employed, did not cause the problem that the person is confronting you about. If you are in a customer support position, your job grants you protection from danger to your physical safety, but you still have to deal with belligerent conduct and confrontation. You can assess the situation and use your communication skills and decision-making power to de escalate conflicts on the phone.

What Kinds of Situations Do Government Employees Need to De Escalate?

Law enforcement is not just about catching criminals in the act. Police officers must often de escalate many different types of situations. It is among people’s civil rights to express their opinions and grievances, and police officers are often present at protest demonstrations to prevent direct confrontation between protesters and counter-protesters.

First responders and police are also among the first to arrive on the scene of car accidents, where they must ensure that injured people get prompt treatment and determine how the accident happened. At the scene of an accident, an officer is likely to encounter an individual experiencing extreme stress, either because the person is injured or because the person is worried about the financial hardship the accident will cause. The person might even fear being accused of a crime, which will make him or her even less likely to want to talk calmly to a police officer about the accident. Police must also respond to calls about fights in public places and domestic disputes at residences in the community.

Do Government Agencies Help Employees De Escalate Conflicts?

Police, public safety officers, first responders, and social workers learn about de escalation strategies as part of their job training. Conflict management is, directly or indirectly, one of the services they provide to the public. Despite this, many public sector employees, whether they are in the justice system, social services, or any other government department, wish that their agency would offer more resources and tools to support its personnel in improving its knowledge and behavior so that the personnel’s efforts to defuse conflicts would be more effective.

Providing training is only the beginning. Many public sector employees have some experience with participation in a de escalation training program, even if it was just an online course or a few training sessions. To be effective, a de escalation training program should be specific to the sector of employees it targets and the situations they face. Online training may or may not be able to accomplish this as well as in-person training programs.

Factors That Increase the Risk of Tense Situations

When de escalation is required of police officers and other public-facing government employees, you are walking into a situation that has already started. You are not in complete control of the situation, but you must deal with the circumstances you are facing. For example, if other officers have called you for backup, it could mean that they already have a clear plan for the de escalation process, or it could mean that their colleagues have thus far been unsuccessful in their efforts to defuse the situation. Your arrival may temporarily escalate the situation before you begin the de escalation process. The last thing someone who is experiencing a crisis and being accused of a crime wants to see is more law enforcement officers, especially if he or she fears that the officer will use force.

If the nature of your work is to deal with crisis management, then you are probably one of the first responders called to respond to emergencies in the community. Your communication skills and knowledge of de escalation make you among the first personnel that your agency calls when a situation requires de escalation resources.

Your Goal Is for Everyone to Get Out of the Situation Safely

No matter your job description, your immediate goal in a tense situation is to get everyone out of the situation safely. You should make this the complete focus of your tactics. De escalation is not about winning or losing, and it is not about showing people who is boss. In a crisis situation, the safety of everyone is important, and it is in the interest of justice to remember that police officers are human beings, and so are bystanders and people being accused of crimes. As long as everyone gets out alive, you can sort out the details in a court of law later. De escalation grants safety to all members of the community, not only during the immediate crisis but also in future situations. De escalating today’s crisis without the use of force is one of the most valuable resources you have to serve the interest of justice and to build trust between the community and law enforcement officers.

Which De Escalation Training Programs Are Available?

Employees who work for government agencies should seek out de escalation programs for the sake of their own mental health and job performance. Burnout from stressful jobs can lead to mental illness and behavioral health problems. Even if you do not have time to take a whole day off of work to attend a de escalation training course, you can participate in an online course or online training program. If your agency will not let you take time off of work to attend de escalation training, they will have to make accommodations for you if you need them for your mental well-being and stability. Federal employment laws require this, and this requirement has the force of law.

You might also be able to find a face-to-face training program in your community. If your employer grants you flexible hours, you can attend the course during hours that are work hours for most government agencies. If the training course has meetings at night, then you can attend in the evening hours. Taking a de escalation training course will be good for your mental health.

Choosing the Best De Escalation Training Course for Your Agency

De escalation training programs are not just for individuals. De escalation training professionals will bring their training programs to your workplace. The de escalation training experts can even develop a de escalation training course that is custom-made for your police force or government department. Not all government agencies need the same course materials. Police officers do not run into the same situations as social work agencies on a daily basis, although there is some overlap.

What to Expect in a De Escalation Training Course

In a de escalation training course, you will learn about the psychology of conflict. You will learn communication skills and support mental health and healthy personal and professional relationships. During the course of the program, your trainer may tell you about his or her experience de escalating conflicts with other agencies and with other work environments, such as hospitals or law firms. Your trainer will encourage participation but not force you to engage in embarrassing icebreakers or unrealistic role-play scenarios.

How to Prepare for De Escalation Training

If your employer ordered the training course and is requiring all employees to participate, then by law, the sessions should take place at your usual workplace and during business hours. The facilitator of your training may have experience as a law enforcement officer, family law attorney, industrial psychologist, or any of various other professional backgrounds.

You will be among coworkers but you will be talking to them on a more introspective level than you do during a normal workday. The training course will be interactive, and the time will pass more quickly than you might expect. You will spend the time brainstorming, listening to presentations, taking part in small group discussions, and perhaps even meeting one on one with a trainer. Whether or not you decide to take notes, you will learn a lot during your de escalation training course.

About Defuse De Escalation Training

Defuse de escalation training designs and implements de escalation training courses for every industry, from education to healthcare to law enforcement to corporate law and more. Your organization can choose the onsite or online training format that best suits the needs of your employees. Defuse offers individual de escalation coaching for leaders within the organization who can then train their own employees about what they have learned. We will also come to your workplace to lead group training sessions.

Contact Defuse De Escalation Training

A successful workplace and a good relationship with the community you serve starts with effective de escalation skills. Contact Defuse De Escalation Training today to find out more.

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