How To De-escalate A Potentially Violent Situation

Before Things Get Out of Hand


Have you ever tried to break up a fight before?

Two (or more) people, going head-to-head…toe-to-toe.

It’s not a very easy thing to do, is it?

Once things start to get physical it’s like human beings turn into raging bulls. Bulls that are seeing nothing but red and totally oblivious to everything except annihilating their opponent.

It’s very difficult to talk rational to someone in this state of mind.

Think about your job.

Your children are watching.

What if someone is seriously hurt?

It’s not worth it.

One question that seems to evade folks minds the most when they’re this angry is…

Whose going to bail you out of jail?

Before the First Blow 

The moments right before a fist fight are very important. This is where you make the choice to either engage or disengage from the conflict.

The most important thing to do while involved in a threatening verbal confrontation is to attempt to de escalate the potentially violent situation. This will allow you to remove yourself before things get to the point of no return. Being approached in an aggressive manner or verbally threatened can seem scary and intimidating. Here are a few tips on what to do if this ever happens to you.

Be Patient and Stay Calm                                        

In order to de escalate a conflict, your first weapon of choice is patience. A situation that has the potential to turn violent will require patience on your part. Be mindful of your response so that the aggressor is not further agitated. If you challenge them or respond with threats, then you have only added fuel to the fire that are difficult to put out after such a response. But if you are patient and calm then you can defuse the aggressor and the potentially violent situation.


Make Eye Contact

If you avoid eye contact with your aggressor it will often be perceived as a sign of weakness. Eye contact is a sign of confidence. It’s never a good thing to antagonize an aggressive person but looking like an easy target doesn’t help either.

Use Closed-Ended Statements

It would be best not to ask questions or engage with the aggressor at all. If you feel provoked in an uncomfortable situation, or being verbally abused, the best de escalating technique you can use is to not take the bait. Resist the urge to verbally defend yourself or to ask questions like “why” they are upset or “what” do they want from you. These open-ended statements are an invitation to allow the aggressor to escalate the situation into higher plains of hostility and aggression.

Do Not Become Aggressive

If you respond to your aggressor’s threats with threats of your own then you have successfully escalated the conflict. The best choice of action is to remove yourself from the situation. If you allow yourself to become engaged with a person that is being verbally abusive then it could very well turn into a physical altercation, which is not a good thing.

Your priority should always be your personal safety. If you’re in a situation that is becoming verbally abusive, try to de escalate it before it turns ugly and violent. Once a confrontation turns violent, defending yourself will be more work than just removing yourself from the verbal conflict to begin with. Don’t let anyway engage you in a verbal conflict that has the potential to escalate. Enduring temporary verbal abuse is better than getting hurt or killed in a physical altercation.



10 thoughts on “How To De-escalate A Potentially Violent Situation

  1. What a great and useful post Tasha. I’ve been in a few situations like this before, and one way or another I’ve managed to defuse the situation, though there were a few times when I almost let my anger at a situation get to me. So taking the time to read a post like this in a moment of calm is good to store in the mental ‘vault’ if and when it happens again.

    Also, you know I love your Funny Fridays, but its really nice seeing you write a post like this again. I really learn so much!

    1. Thanks Robert. I’ve had more than my fair share of issues regarding this site for the past few weeks so it’s really good to be back. I see your name didn’t show up with your comment (I’m familiar with how you comment which is how I know it’s you :D), so maybe I still have more work left to do. Concerning the post, it is really important to know when it’s necessary to fight and when to walk away. Having a bruised ego is certainly not a good reason to engage in a brawl, especially when you never know what the outcome will be. I’m glad you were able calm yourself before things got out of hand, you were definitely being smart during a volatile situation.

  2. Lol…I have no idea why it is doing that. I just filled the fields in again, so lets see if that works this time, but I’m glad you can recognize my replies! As I have gotten older, quite frankly the main reason I try to stay calm is 1-people are angrier these days in general. A simple accidental push can lead to not just fisticuffs, but these days maybe even worse. 2-I just would really rather not deal with the blowback-police reports, damages to pay, whatever. I’d rather just walk away than deal with that sort of stuff.

    1. It showed up this time. And you’re absolutely right…best to think about the consequences of such actions beforehand because once things are set in motion you never know what the outcome may be.

  3. It’s not worth your life to be “right” or engage in an argument, especially when dealing with a crazy person (or irrational person, same thing). Good post Tasha! I’m thankful to have never been in a situation such as this, well, other than high school, but we never had to worry about guns back then, and I hope I never have to use these tactics ever in my life.

    1. You are extremely lucky Paula, to have never found yourself in such a situation. High school seems to be the breeding ground for this kind of barbaric behavior. Teens can definitely benefit from learning how to deal with conflict amongst their peers.

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