De-escalation-techniques are the people skills and talking skills we possess and utilize when confronted with a challenging situation or challenging behavior. How you use these de-escalation-techniques will decide what happens next. Get it wrong (as we all have at times) and the situation is fired to another level. You have added fuel to the fire and made things much worse than they were. Get it right and you have achieved your goal, preventing a situation from progressing.

De-escalation-techniques are something that comes with experience. Most hospitals and organizations provide training in these de-escalation techniques and along with reflection and experience it is one of the most important tools we can use. I’m sure you will agree though that some people still struggle in this area regardless of their experience and training. I still come across it even now. OK, so here are a few reasons why it fails.

• Some find it hard to say the right things

• Some don’t realize they are actually having a negative effect on the situation

• They won’t accept defeat

• They don’t like being told what to do by others

• They are right and what they say goes

• They lack understanding

• They lack people skills and talking skills

These are a few of the attitudes that we come across often. That does not mean that these are bad people, just that they need to identify and recognize when to take a step back. The whole point of de-escalation is to diffuse the situation by understanding, redirecting or problem-solving, usually all of these.

So if a patient is upset and comes running to you shouting and swearing at you, what will you do? He/she is clearly upset, agitated and probably confused about something or other. One thing is for certain. If you meet this with raising your voice and shouting back or even swearing back at them, it may turn into a tug of war situation which is not what we want to do. Remain calm, meet their gaze and listen intentively and you will achieve more in those first few minutes than you would if you reacted in a confrontational manner. Never meet aggression with aggression.

How you react will affect how they act. By using these tools you will achieve a better outcome and probably more respect. Always use reflection in any situation and scrutinize it to see if you could have handled it in a better way, and give yourself praise for the way you achieved a good outcome either through de-briefing or support. If you would like training in these areas or more information, please use the Contact Us form.

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