What is the purpose of de-escalation?

  • Post last modified:23 May 2022
  • Reading time:9 mins read

De-escalation plays an important role when it comes to reducing violent or disruptive behavior. In order for de-escalation to be effective, there need to be skills in place to reduce or eliminate this risk, particularly if there is a possibility that violence may appear. At pollackpeacebuilding.com, you can read more on how, by implementing less controlling and less authoritative approaches to violent or disruptive situations, there is a greater chance of achieving a better solution.

purpose of de-escalation
purpose of de-escalation

What is the body’s response when it needs to cope with stress or danger?

The fight, flight, or freeze response is how the body responds to what it perceives to be a dangerous situation in which it is possible to be hurt. When someone no longer feels safe and believes to be at risk, they may react by:

  • The fight response: It is accompanied by a desire to punch or rip, feelings of anger or rage, flexed or tight jaws, snarls, and grinding teeth, a knotted stomach, nausea, and a desire to stomp, kick, smash with legs and feet. It is a similar response to when a volcano is erupting.

  • The flight response: At this stage, the person who feels in danger is restless, feels anxiety, engages in leg or foot movements, feels trapped and tense, and desires to run.

  • The freeze response: The person who feels danger may feel stuck, frozen, stiff, and heavy. They may hold their breath, experience a sense of dread, and feel their heart pounding.

What should be the first step toward de-escalation of a conflictive situation?

When the point is to de-escalate a difficult, aggressive situation, the first step should be to insist on respect and dignity.

  • Respect can be defined as a feeling that someone is worthy of being admired because they are valuable. By acknowledging that someone is important, they should be treated as such.

  • Dignity relates to the way people should appear in order to suggest seriousness and self-control. It is the quality of making the other party feel that they are worthy of being honored and respected.

How can management play a role in de-escalation in the workplace?

De-escalation is a technique that can be utilized when there is an incident of aggressive or violent behavior. The aim of de-escalation is to impart a sense of calm and genuine interest in what the problem seems to be while using dignified and respectful attitudes.

Move to a Private Area

When conflict appears in the workplace, management can start by moving the parties to a private area. There is no need for everyone to stop their productive activities to pay attention to what is going on.

Also, when the parties are taken out of the environment that prompted the conflict, they may be more willing to tamp things down. Once the parties in conflict have been separated from everyone else, they should be encouraged to talk and find some positive common ground to come to a conclusion about the conflict.

Be Empathetic and Non-Judgmental

It is important to practice active listening and understand the origin of the conflict. Management should focus on showing empathy towards the persons’ feelings, whether or not they agree with them or feel that they are justified.

It is important to make both parties feel that what they are feeling is real and that they have a right to their feelings, providing they do not result in harm to somebody else.

Personal Space Should Be Respected

Have the parties in conflict stand at least 2 feet away from each other. When the parties feel that their personal space is no longer being invaded, they may react by reducing their anger and stopping their violent or threatening behavior.

During this time, it should be emphasized that the tone used needs to be non-aggressive and that they should relax their bodies and keep their arms relaxed and pointing down.

Avoid Responding to Challenging Questions

There is no need for management to respond to challenging questions by their employees as to why they have interfered in a personal matter. Don’t allow your authority to be challenged or your place within the organization to be questioned. Let employees know that you will not be taking sides and need both parties to resolve their differences in an amicable way.

Give Time for Silence and Decisions

Allow the parties to be silent for some minutes while reflecting on what just happened. They can review the trigger to be aware of it and avoid it in the future. They can also reflect on their own beliefs and reactions to try to react differently the next time around.

Once the parties have calmed down and are no longer upset, it is more likely that they will be able to think clearly and reach a decision. It is better to allow the de-escalation process to work this way than to come into the conflicting area and issue orders to the employees that have thus far not been able to get a hold of themselves. Barking orders to calm down may only end up inflaming the situation even further.

By taking this route, employees will feel valued and respected, and even if they are unable to avoid similar situations in the future, at least they may understand that management is there for them to have a frank discussion on what has been bothering them and that their worries and concerns will be taken seriously.

To reach a successful de-escalation of workplace conflicts, it is important not only for all parties to receive some training but also for the company to implement policies that will be applied to cases of conflict.

Employees need to be made aware that they should leave their personal baggage outside the door before coming to work so that they can have a respectful and productive relationship with those they have to share their work with on a daily basis. The result will be a more peaceful and productive work environment.

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