Mediation Matters – Five Ways to De-escalate a Conflict

With the Carnival season approaching, remember to keep calm and not let conflicts escalate!

What often causes conflicts to escalate is the perception of threat. Remember, when you want to de-escalate a conflict… Make yourself non-threatening to the other person.

1. Listen

Listening is a powerful tool. When other people think that you have not listened to their concerns, they will almost invariably see you as a threat.

2. Acknowledge and accept their emotions/feelings

Acknowledge and accept the other person’s feelings without passing judgement on them. Don’t tell someone how they feel.

3. Apologize for your contribution

Very few conflicts are entirely the fault or responsibility of only one party. There is almost always something that you have done to make the conflict worse. To de-escalate the conflict, accept responsibility for your contribution and apologize for it.

4. Control your tone and body language

A significant portion of the message people receive from you in face-to-face communication is conveyed through your body language and your voice tone. If you look threatening, you are threatening. If you want to de-escalate a conflict, remember to control your tone and body-language.

5. Focus on the future

When you shift the conversation to the future, you engage both you and the other person in a problem solving activity rather than a fault-finding exercise. You create hope, and you make yourself less threatening.