In the heat of a conflict situation, you can easily lose your head and react on the same level as the perceived threat. Especially as a security officer, you may feel a duty to come down hard on anyone disturbing the peace of the office building, campus, hospital, or community you’ve committed to protect.

Sometimes, though, the solution isn’t to keep tensions running high and instantly resort to drastic measures. Many times, you can bring a situation from possibly dangerous down to reasonable levels using a few simple conflict de-escalation techniques. Let’s take a look at some tools you can use to bring a high-stakes situation down to a peaceful resolution.

Prelude: Non-Verbals

This applies throughout each step of conflict resolution: be aware of your non-verbal signals. The person you’re interacting with will read your body language, tone, and gestures more than they listen to your words, so be sure to give personal space, allow time for thoughts and decisions, and maintain a calm demeanor throughout your interaction.

Step One: Where Are They Coming From?

However irrational a person’s actions may seem to you, everyone acts in a way that seems rational to them. The misperception of their actions may be due to past trauma, mental health conditions, or an excited state of mind. You can’t know how their brain may be functioning until you hear from them.

Thus, your first step in conflict de-escalation is to find out the perpetrator’s goal and try to understand why they are acting the way they are. Give them an opportunity to make themselves understood, and show them that you acknowledge their problem and sympathize with them. You may be able to help them meet their goal without causing any further issues.

Step Two: Apologize Sincerely

If simply listening and sympathizing doesn’t solve the problem, an apology can go a long way toward solving your situation. Remember, everything that the person does is rational to them, and they consider any grievance they hold to be real and justified. Often, these grievances do have a legitimate basis, and an apology is no difficult thing to offer, even one as simple as an apology for their emotional state.

When you offer an apology on behalf of the company you represent as a security officer, you offer peace and a chance at reconciliation to someone who has passed their breaking point on some level. You can help them release that tension and find a peaceable solution to their grievance or realize that their anger is misdirected.

Step Three: Connect Choices and Consequences

If your source of conflict chooses to ignore your apology or challenge your authority, you have the right to enforce the rules and laws they are in danger of trespassing. Remind the person that their actions have consequences and you will have to carry out appropriate measures if they choose to do something outside of the law or regulations.

Even here, however, you can be a calm presence and remind them that, contrary to what their excited mind may tell them, their choices stretch beyond the present moment.  If you can find a way to accommodate their desire, then discuss it with them, but remind them that their choices will affect the outcome of the situation. They get to determine how this ends, and your response depends on their actions.

Giving this kind of agency affirms the same thing you’ve been working toward the whole time: you see them as a rational person with legitimate thought processes and you believe them capable of reasoning this out. Give the person their dignity while reminding them that human dignity comes with responsibility for their choices.

Do you think you’d be good at conflict de-escalation? Want to make a career out of it? Contact Trident Security today to begin your security officer journey.