How to Deescalate Bad Situations

As communication majors, we will most likely work closely with people on a daily basis. Confrontation is a natural part of communication. Some people get a kick out of it, some even thrive off it of, but others find it very uncomfortable. Regardless of how you feel about it, it is important to know how to deescalate sticky situations.

Here are some tips on how to do so:

*Listen: People are more likely to be receptive to what you say if you are receptive to them first.  When you listen it makes people feel like you have a genuine interest and care about what they are upset about.  Also, when you take the time to listen you will be able to understand why the person is upset more efficiently.

*Do not let your emotions get the best you: Try to remain as level-headed and logical as possible, even if the other people have totally flown off the handlebars.  You can only control how your own behavior, so learn to take the high road.  Stick to stating facts about whatever the argument is about and remain calm.  As soon as you raise your voice you have sunk to their level.

*Make what you say count: Even if you have honed the listening skill your opponent may not have.  This means that you have to try twice as hard to get your point across.  Think about the message you want to get across before you say it.  Use as few words as possible to convey your message, because it will be less for your opponent to try to process while yelling back at you.  Repetition is a good tool to hammer your message across without being rude.

*Walk away and come back later: If you are still having problems dealing with the situation, do not be afraid to be the bigger person and walk away for awhile.  Let the other person cool down and re-approach them at a later time.  Remember, win an argument and lose a friend, employer, coworker, or source.


5 responses to “How to Deescalate Bad Situations

  1. I think listening is probably the most important tip when it comes to getting along with people. You don’t even have to listen per-se, just act like you are. Bottom line: People like you if you care. You don’t have to care a lot, or even at all, but pretending helps keep things civil. This strategy works way better than just blowing people off and making them feel insignificant.

    Walking away before you rebuttal in anger is also a key tip in maintaining a decent relationship. This has proved successful in many instances for me. I recommend walking fast and blocking out any other sounds around you–otherwise you may decide to turn around and finish the argument the way you really want to–by winning.

  2. I hate confrontation. I will do anything to avoid it. I think just always trying to be calm is the best way to resolve issues–which I have a problem with. Listening is definitely a big plus here, but I also think that keeping your emotions in check is imperative. Once your emotions get the best of you, your fight is over. There is no turning back. Might as well run out of the room or something, because when our emotions get the best of us, that’s usually the point of no return–where we say something we regret. This sort of thing can lead to some really sticky situations in a workplace, or anywhere for that matter.

  3. I like your third point. I always feel when I’m in an argument with someone that they never listen to my concerns. I think it’s important to say what you want in as few words as possible. If they’re stomping away you’ve got to make your point quickly.

  4. I am the worst with number two on your list. I don’t consider myself dramatic, but I let my emotions get the best of me way too often. I feed off other people’s energy—whether it is positive or negative. I have serious trouble staying calm when someone is yelling at me.

  5. Definitely some good points here – I especially like your last point “Remember, win an argument and lose a friend, employer, coworker, or source.” It’s such a good point – whether someone read this post and didn’t take it seriously or not – this detail will stick with them. It will with me.

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