How To Defuse Anger
Dealing with aggressive behaviour
The aim of staff response in intervening in an aggressive conflict is to facilitate a safe resolution of an incident, to minimise the arousal of the aggressor, to aid in the exploration of underlying emotions and problem solving and finally to maximise the opportunities for new learning.
General Tips for Dealing with Confrontation and Aggression
- Use a calm, open posture (sitting or standing). Place yourself to the person’s side or take up a side-on stance.
- Reduce eye contact by use of peripheral vision — as direct eye contact can be confronting.
- Allow the individual adequate personal space.
- Keep both hands visible with open palm as a calming gesture.
- Do not stand if the individual is sitting or you will appear threatening.
- Do not whisper or talk over the person. Keep them involved and keep them talking.
- Avoid sudden movements that may startle or be perceived as an attack. Movement towards the individual may be perceived as a threat. Move backwards or sideways if you move at all. Do not turn your back on the individual.
- If physical contact is made (e.g. holding your hand or patting you on the back), try and remain calm. Do not pull away or overreact, as this may trigger suspicion.
- Try to stay as calm as possible; it can keep tensions from escalating and may help defuse the situation. If you cannot stay calm then should consider leaving the vicinity.
- Try to avoid using the phrase “calm down” as this is often seen as patronizing and can escalate a situation.
- Attempt to show empathy and concern. For example; by saying “I can see your frustration, and I’m frustrated too”.
- Rather than insisting that you are right and they wrong, you could try and let the aggressor know that you see the situation differently. For example, you could say “I can see we don’t see this the same way”.
- If the aggressor is verbally abusive, tell them you will be able to help them better if they lower their voice, and stop attacking. You do not have to tolerate abuse.
Listen to the communication rather than reacting to the behaviour
Ask question to gain information and to affirm acknowledgement