7 Tips to Defuse a Potentially Violent Confrontation

As a security officer, your first defense against violence should always be defuse a situation. Often, an irate customer or employee at a venue merely needs someone to help them calm their emotions before they lose control.

When you are on duty, keep these tips in mind to quickly gain control of a volatile situation and help everyone find a safe resolution.

1. Plan Ahead

Strategic planning allows you to stay one step ahead of anyone involved in a potentially violent encounter. When you are assigned to a new location, take the time to familiarize yourself with the everyday operations so that you can identify potential problems before they happen.

For example, an assignment at a concert venue may require you to become extra vigilant as the night wears on and tempers begin to flare. Alternatively, a post at an apartment complex might generate conflicts among neighbors during the morning and evening rush hours.

Once you identify potential scenarios that you could face at a given location, you can then brush up on your security officer training for handling specific situations.

2. Watch for Signs of Agitation

As you interact with people at your post, you should always be on alert for signs of agitation that signify that a situation could escalate. Even when a person speaks calmly, you may notice signs of anger such as crossed arms, flared nostrils, or flushed skin.

Someone who is reaching the point of crossing over into physical violence may also begin to exhibit tension in their face and muscles, or they may make threatening comments. When you see signs of agitation, remember to keep your body language calm to avoid adding fuel to the situation.

3. Establish Your Authority

Your initial contact with an irate person sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. Let them know your position at the venue, such as by announcing that you are a security officer. Then follow up by telling them that you are there to help. This helps to offset any feelings of rebellion that they may have in response to authority.

In some cases, you may also need to make certain policies known to the person who is angry. For instance, you could explain that yelling is not permitted within the area and ask the person to lower their voice so that you can talk.

4. Put Distance Between the Involved Parties

When more than one person is involved in the conflict, you need to separate the people. While this has the obvious benefit of making physical violence impossible, it also allows you space to talk to each person and hear their side of the story.

5. Practice Active Listening

Most of the time, an angry person just wants to be heard, and you may need to give them time to vent. As they do so, remain calm and use techniques such as paraphrasing what they are saying until they are ready to have a civil conversation.

6. Demonstrate Empathy

Empathy involves showing the other person that you understand how they feel, but this does not necessarily mean that you have to agree with their claims. However, making statements such as, I understand that you feel mad, makes it clear that you are trying to help the other person.

7. Provide Help With a Resolution

Once you’ve defused the situation and helped the person calm down, you want to make sure that things do not escalate again. When possible, ask the person for their thoughts on an ideal resolution, and do your best to help them find satisfaction.

For example, you may take them to a member of the management at the facility where you are posted so that person can provide further assistance, or you could help them move to a new location that is away from the triggering event.

At Trident Security, we provide conflict resolution training that helps security officers de-escalate a dangerous situation so that everyone stays safe. Contact us to learn more about our program today.