The very first step in managing a de-escalation training has nothing to do with the other person, and everything to do with you. It may sound odd, but in order to successfully de-escalate somebody in crisis, you first have to identify what’s in it for you. What do you stand to gain from de-escalating this person? You’ve got to identify for yourself, what you are going to get out of this through trying to calm or resolve the situation. Think about both the best case and worst-case scenarios. In some situations, the worst case scenario would not only be that you don’t do a good job of de-escalation, but that the situation escalates and it leads to a physical altercation, which might cause you, a co-worker, or someone else, great harm or even death.
So, it’s important to establish—even before showing up, or as the situation is brewing–What’s In It for Me (WIIFM)? If you can’t figure out what you have to gain from the situation, you’re not going to have much success at de-escalating it. If you don’t care about it, you could just say, “Well, there’s no reason why I should get involved. There’s nothing in this for me.” Quite honestly, that will be very transparent to the individual with whom you’re working. So, I want you to ask a couple questions. First, you have to determine, what’s in it for you? Secondly, determine why should you try to de-escalate the situation? Thirdly, what do you have to gain by not ignoring it? If you’re able to keep from turning it inward, and are able to resist taking it personally, what is it you have to gain?
When I was working in law enforcement, one of the biggest things I had to do was paperwork. Right off the bat I knew that, if I could show up to a situation and do a good job of de-escalation, it would be one less report I’d have to write. The circumstance was what it was, but the reality is most of us don’t want to do extra paperwork. So, when you show up to a crisis, if you haven’t already done so on the way there, immediately think, “what do I have to gain from resolving this successfully?” Then, try very hard, using every bit of skill and ability to successfully de-escalate that crisis situation.