April 20, 2023
De-escalating Conflict in the Workplace (and Other Places)
Guidelines to Conflict Resolution without Violence from Corporate Spaces to Stadium Events
Conflict is inevitable. A part of life. And in many cases, it can be difficult to avoid. Whether in the workplace or at a football game, if your job requires confrontations with people in turmoil or under duress, or if you are in a position where conflicts happen frequently, being equipped with tools to de-escalate situations before they turn violent can keep you, your colleagues, your team, and others in the vicinity safe. In this post, we will explore strategies for de-escalating conflict in a variety of contexts, from corporate spaces to stadiums. We will discuss why it is important to have a plan of action to manage conflict, as well as provide guidelines to prevent and resolve conflicts without needing to use violence, keeping you and others safe.
Defining de-escalation and conflict resolution
De-escalation is the process of calming a situation to prevent it from escalating into violence or conflict. It is an effective way of managing stressful or tense situations before they become dangerous. De-escalation techniques include effectively communicating by tactically using body composition, proper speech, and voice inflection for maximum impact.
We use the term conflict resolution as the process of resolving disputes between two or more parties. It involves communication, negotiation, and compromise to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. Conflict resolution can be used in both business, personal settings, and on the job to help maintain healthy relationships between people and in certain situations.
How to use conflict resolution and de-escalation in the workplace
In the workplace, no matter the industry or setting, it is important to create an environment where individuals are comfortable expressing themselves while respecting the boundaries of others. To do this, foster healthy communication by encouraging active listening and engaging in productive dialogue. This allows workers to have their needs met without escalating into an uncomfortable, unhealthy or tense situation.
Let's go through some example situations.
Example 1: Two departments are in conflict about the timeline and assigned responsibilities of a year long project. The stress, pressure and lack of communication has led to a shouting exchange between the two department managers. Being ready with conflict resolution tools like communication skills could be crucial in this situation. If you are trained in de-escalation, you could have identified and acted upon pre-incident indicators and non-verbal cues so the yelling match didn't even happen.
Example 2: You are an emergency worker responding to a volatile situation. You use calming language and gestures to try to defuse the situation without creating further tension.
Example 3: Another situation in the office setting when conflict resolution could help: Two employees are in disagreement and their emotions and actions are creating a hostile environment. Rather than allowing the situation to escalate any further, you guide the employees to use communication, negotiation, and compromise to resolve their differences and come to an agreement that works for both parties.
Example 4: At the scene of a minor car accident, whether you are responding to the situation or involved in the incident, it is important to stay calm and respect the safety of those involved. If tempers begin to flare, try to provide a distraction such as suggesting a phone call to an insurance company. If possible, try to reframe the conversation away from assigning blame towards solving the problem at hand. The goal should be to resolve the issue in a way that is satisfactory for everyone involved without resorting to violence or aggression.
Example 5: You are working as security or crowd control of a sporting event. Conflict resolution might be needed due to the heightened emotions and condition of the fans. To de-escalate potential arguments between spectators, remain calm and approach the situation with a cool head. Identify and act upon pre-incident indicators and non-verbal cues that will increase your ability to recognize a conflict before it happens. Offer a compromise that will benefit both parties and diffuse the situation without it escalating further.
How to de-escalate conflict to prevent violence
De-escalation techniques are a powerful tool to use in order to prevent violent situations from escalating. By using certain techniques, individuals and organizations can learn how to identify when a situation is becoming dangerous and can work to de-escalate it before violence occurs. De-escalation can be used in any situation where there is potential for violence.
The goal of de-escalation is to create an environment where communication and understanding can take place without fear of physical harm. It involves a set of strategies that focus on listening, empathy, trust, and respect. It is important to remember that de-escalation is not about controlling the other person, but rather helping them to feel heard and understood.
To use de-escalation techniques effectively, it is important to remain calm and non-threatening. Speak slowly and clearly, and remain patient and supportive. Additionally, it is essential to actively listen to the other person's concerns and try to understand their perspective. Show empathy by validating their feelings and offering solutions that are mutually beneficial.
For example, police officers respond to a disturbance call at a concert venue and are able to successfully de-escalate the situation by remaining calm and focused on understanding the people involved. They listened to their concerns and then provided solutions that worked for both parties. The officers were able to successfully resolve the issue without anyone getting hurt.
De-escalation techniques can be an effective way to prevent violence in the workplace and at events. With patience and empathy, people can be empowered to take control of a potentially dangerous situation and find a peaceful resolution.
Guidelines to de-escalation and conflict resolution
1. Listen carefully and actively to the other person's point of view. Make sure to not only hear their words, but to also take in the emotion behind them.
2. Avoid jumping to conclusions or making assumptions about the other person's intentions.
3. Remain open to compromise, and be willing to work with the other person to find a solution that meets both of your needs.
4. Avoid using language or tactics that may make the other person defensive or hostile.
5. Focus on the present situation and do not bring up past issues or grievances.
Create a plan of action
Another essential part to managing conflict and de-escalating potentially violent situations is to have a plan of action. Having a plan of action can help to mitigate potential risks and ensure the safety of everyone involved. It can also provide clarity on how best to handle a situation and provide a framework for resolution.
When creating a plan of action, it's important to include guidelines to manage conflicts in the workplace and strategies to create a safe environment. This should include the roles and responsibilities of each individual, including the people involved in the conflict and any other personnel who may be able to assist. Additionally, it's important to establish clear communication lines, such as having a hotline or having staff members who are responsible for handling and addressing conflicts.
To review, de-escalating conflicts in the workplace or during certain events requires understanding of how to effectively handle potentially volatile situations. Establishing guidelines and having a plan of action can help mitigate risks, create a safe environment, and provide a framework for resolution. Communication is key and it's important to have support systems in place to ensure the safety of all involved.
Flying Aces offers de-escalation and conflict resolution training courses including Advanced De-escalation Techniques and Introduction to Crisis Management. We serve the public and private sector. And because different organizations have different needs, we provide custom-tailored courses to fit your needs as an agency. Our instructors have extensive specialized training and vast amounts of experience.