How to Build De-Escalation Communication Skills

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Most people spend as much time with their coworkers as they do with their families. People who do business together sometimes get into conflicts just as people with other relationships do. In some cases, one or more of the people involved in a conflict can get emotional. Sometimes those emotions can even turn physical and dangerous.

If you are the owner or manager of a business, or if you work in the human resources department of a company, learning communication and de-escalation skills is very important. It is also essential that your management staff has these skills. Fortunately, there are companies that can provide peacekeeping and mediation training.  

What Does De-Escalation Training Entail?

De-escalation training will teach you the psychology behind aggressive behavior. It will also teach you the reasons why people get into conflicts in the first place.

A person will learn how to regulate their emotions in de-escalation training so they can better help others. Essentially you will learn how to prevent intense situations from getting even worse.

There are a few topics that any worthwhile De-escalation class should teach. 

Listening Skills

One of the most important elements of de-escalation training is learning how to listen. It is a good idea to paraphrase what the person has said back to them so they will know that you have heard them. You should always let an upset person finish what they are saying before you speak.

There is a certain physical posture that one should take when dealing with an upset person. It is important to nod and be empathetic when talking to someone who is very upset. You want to stand a reasonable distance from them so they do not feel that you are encroaching on their personal space.

Training Employees to Recognize Warning Signs of Aggression

It is always best to avoid conflict in the first place. There are a few early warning signs of aggressiveness to look out for in employees and potential employees. If a management team knows what to look for, they can avoid conflict in the first place.

A person who seems very anxious at work might be likely to become aggressive. When an employee gets upset because of criticism of their work, chances are they are worried about keeping their job. If another employee or manager gives them a real or perceived reason to fear for their job, they may become aggressive.

If someone seems to have a lot of mood swings, this may also be a warning sign of aggression. A person whose emotions are mercurial may become easily upset. It is best to talk to a person when you notice that their emotions have become volatile to find out what is bothering them. 

A worker who often has disagreements with management or has arguments with coworkers may become aggressive. If they repeatedly complain about unfair treatment, they might eventually get frustrated and become confrontational. 

Mediation between an employee and the manager they have a problem with is the best way to negate a crisis. In some cases, a worker may have a legitimate complaint about a manager. If this complaint is addressed early on, the employee will feel listened to, and you may be able to work things out.

Physical Signs of Aggression

Sometimes you can tell if a person is likely to become aggressive by observing their actions. If a person makes exaggerated physical gestures or angry facial expressions, it is pretty easy to tell that they are frustrated and may become belligerent or even violent. However, there are signs of aggressiveness that may not be obvious.

A worker who looks fatigued might be suffering from insomnia. Sometimes insomnia can be caused by frustrations at work. Repetitive motions can also be a sign of frustration at work.

Changes in a person’s voice can indicate that they are frustrated or becoming angry. This does not mean they will necessarily get louder. A person who is frustrated may speak in a much softer tone when they are very upset. 

If a person glares at you, it might be fairly obvious that they are angry with you. However, if someone refuses to make eye contact, that can be a sign that they are feeling upset and do not want to reveal their feelings. 

A training program can teach you how to differentiate between someone who is just having a bad day and someone who may be an actual threat to your office. 

Other Signs of Aggression

If a person has an obsession with weapons or often speaks about mass shootings and violent incidents at work, it can be a sign that they might turn aggressive. Most active shooters plan their attacks based on the actions of other shooters.

Just because someone has some aggressive characteristics does not mean they will do anything violent. Although the majority of states are at-will states when it comes to employment, it is probably not a good idea to fire someone just because they occasionally look fatigued, look upset, or have erratic speech patterns.

If you and your management team are aware of the warning signals, you can keep an eye on anyone who exhibits them. You can pay special attention to them and prevent a dangerous situation.

Learning How to Remain Calm

When someone becomes upset with you, it is only natural to become upset with them. However, getting upset will only exacerbate the situation. One of the most important de-escalation skills a person can have is remaining calm in a crisis.

Most people are not aware of it, but facial expressions on a listener’s face can Increase aggression in a person who is already agitated.

When someone verbally insults you, it is natural that you want to defend yourself. However, it is best to allow the other person to finish speaking and allow for some silence, even if that silence seems awkward. 

De-escalation training will help you think positively in a crisis. You will learn how to use the kind of language that helps you control your emotions.

It is always important to let the person you are dealing with know that you want to work with them. You will learn how to give them different positive choices so that they will feel they are in control of the situation. 

Learn How to Bond With Different Types of People

One of the most difficult things for a manager is understanding the cultural backgrounds of different people. When you understand the system of morals and values that a person was raised with, it is easier to understand what motivates them and how to talk to them. This may include learning about different religions and customs in different countries.

If you get to know how a person thinks and what they value, you will be better able to talk to them if they are upset. You will also be better able to inspire them to work hard. 

Encourage Team Building

Workers will do their best when they feel like they are part of a team. It is important to encourage all employees to have input on projects and provide feedback. Often employees who have great ideas will not speak up because they are afraid they will not be taken seriously or their input will be perceived as insubordination. If you let all people have input in a meeting, you will understand the way each person thinks.

When employees understand and trust each other, they will begin to build a rapport. They will understand that the success of the business is also a personal triumph. 

How Conflict Management is Different From Regular Business Management?

When a person tells you their opinion of a certain situation, you will normally ask them challenging questions about how those opinions were formed. People in business management are trained to do this so they better understand the research that has been done on a project and the qualifications of the person presenting an idea.

When you are dealing with a highly emotional worker, you do not want to ask them challenging questions. You want to do what you can to help the person find a solution to their problem. Discuss all of the different options they have for successfully and peacefully resolving their issue. 

What to Look For in a Training Company?

The company you select to provide the de-escalation training should offer both remote and in-person training. This way, managers can use the kind of training that is convenient for them. When you offer people both options, they are more likely to complete the training.

 Make sure the length of the training is something that will work for you. Some companies need to get the training done through a weekend seminar, while a weekly class would work better for other businesses.

Look for a company that is staffed with conflict specialists that have many years of experience. A conflict specialist should focus on the social elements of psychology. A worthwhile conflict resolution team will consist of people who keep themselves apprised of the latest research and modify their training to reflect it.


Conflict management training is the first step to having a peaceful and well-run office. When you foster an atmosphere of cooperation and respect, your business will thrive, and your employees will be happy.

Start implementing these strategies today and witness the positive impact they can have. Remember, building these skills takes time and practice, but the rewards are invaluable in both personal and professional interactions. 

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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