Hints for De-Escalating a Conflict
DeJong (1994) offers the following hints to de-escalate a conflict:
- "Take a deep breath to stay relaxed.
- Look the other person in the eye, with both of you sitting or standing.
- Speak softly and slowly.
- Keep your legs and arms uncrossed. Do not clench your fists or purse your
- Keep reminding yourself: 'We can find a win-win resolution to
this,' and remind the other person of this too.
- If necessary, ask for a break to collect your thoughts or release pent-up
- Give 'I messages.'
- Paraphrase what the other person has said, asking for clarification as
- Watch your language. Words that escalate a conflict are never,
always, unless, can't, won't, don't,
should and shouldn't. Words that de-escalate a conflict are
maybe, perhaps, sometimes, what if, it seems
like, I feel, I think, and I wonder.
- Really listen to what the other person is saying, with the goal of truly
understanding that person's point of view.
- Affirm and acknowledge the other person's position.
- Ask questions that encourage the other person to look for a solution. Ask
open-ended questions rather than ones that will evoke a yes or no response.
- Keep looking for alternative ideas to resolve your dispute so that both of
you have your needs met." (p. 6)
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