The primary role of private security is to ensure that people and property are protected. Sometimes, workplaces may encounter tense situations that can potentially lead to violence. Under these circumstances, you need personnel who can readily de-escalate the conflict.
Conflict resolution is of the many qualities a security guard must possess to fully accomplish their job. The following tips and techniques are essential so that guards, even supervisors and managers, can better execute de-escalation strategies.
Why Knowing De-Escalation Techniques Is Important?
De-escalation can have a significant impact on your working environment. Unsettled conflicts can be extremely harmful. It can cause property damages, or worst, it can even be life-threatening.
De-escalation strategies and training are must-haves because:
- It ensures workplace safety
It is not uncommon for the workplace to witness tensions escalating into violence. For example, a wronged employee could seek retribution by trying to inflict harm on his colleagues. Having a security guard who is trained to recognize this possibility and prevent it can improve workplace safety.
- It promotes resilience
Consequently, having a person with de-escalation training boosts the security of the workplace. Employees may feel more confident that the chances of a situation escalating to violence are slim.
- It saves lives
Proper use of the techniques may not only save the life of the victim but that of the perpetrator as well. De-escalation techniques can also be beneficial for security guards who have to deal with people suffering from mental health issues. Together with the knowledge of CPR and first aid, de-escalation training can come in handy for worst-case scenarios.
- It helps manage problems calmly
De-escalation training teaches guards how to watch out for signs of a situation turning sour while keeping themselves and others calm. By doing so, security guards are, at least, able to minimize potential property damage or physical injury by offenders without inciting more violence.
- It reduces potential damage
The goal of de-escalation is to essentially reduce, if not eliminate, damage or injury. A security guard can talk and pacify an individual before apprehending them, which can alleviate tension and prevent them from doing more harm.
What Are the Warning Signs of Escalation?
The nature of their job places security guards at a greater risk of facing potentially dangerous situations. To maneuver through such dangers, security personnel need keen situational awareness. Knowing when tensions become volatile can make a difference.
Fortunately, there are warning signs to allow you to recognize when a person might become violent. These include:
- Direct threats
- Boasting about previous violent encounters
- Yelling and profanity
- Invasion of personal space
- Heavy breathing or flaring nostrils
- Making fists
Other common but less apparent signs include:
- High tone of voice
- Laughing at odd or inappropriate times
- Refusing to make eye contact
- Tense body language
How Do You Manage a Stressful Situation?
Under intense and dangerous circumstances, staying calm is easier said than done. Most of the time, guards will be more inclined to engage aggressively and stand their ground than communicate. Unfortunately, this will only make matters worse, giving the offender reason to fight back and put others in danger.
The following de-escalation steps will allow you to calmly and effectively handle situations and ease tensions:
Establishing a plan can reduce mistakes, give you and other personnel confidence, and, more importantly, keep you calm. Past situations and consistent training will help you develop your plans and make them better.
Preparation also entails knowing when to call back-up, when to use physical force, and how to communicate.
Security guards must practice active listening at all times. The one thing all angry individuals want is to be heard. As a result, guards should allow them to vent out their anger as long as they don’t pose a threat to anyone, including themselves.
When you let a person rant and yell, never interrupt and maintain eye contact. One surefire way of calming a person down is showing them that you’re paying attention and empathize with their situation. Listen closely and repeat what they say.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in one’s position and understand what they must be feeling. Understanding the person and their experiences are one of the most effective ways a private officer can de-escalate a situation.
It is easy to outright resort to authoritarianism, but acknowledging an angry person’s emotions and showing that they are valid can help them re-assess their actions. You don’t want to come off as judgmental. Instead, you should present yourself as someone willing to help them find a solution.
Effective communication is not just about what you say. How you say it and your body language also matters. You must be aware of every aspect of communication. Having a calm tone of voice or standing away from the offender all show that you are not a threat and only want to help.
Sometimes, when individuals are mad or annoyed, they may have a hard time expressing their points, so you need to seek clarification. You can ask for further explanations or try to paraphrase their statements so that they can think clearly about what they are trying to say. When your communication is interrupted, attempt to reconnect where you’ve left off by summarizing their points.
By doing this, not only are you gaining a clearer understanding of the situation, but the person may also realize their behaviour and rethink their approach.
If the person doesn’t want to talk, you can ask them short and open-ended questions or have them repeat a sequence of events. Engage them with a series of general questions to divert their attention or to help them open up for conflict resolution.
Letting a person know that you are open to cooperating eliminates resistance. Again, during de-escalation, your main priority is to resolve the conflict without the use of force.
Offer solutions to the problem based on what the person has communicated to you. Using phrases like “let’s figure this out” or “let’s fix this problem together” shows that you are willing to work with them.
This may come as a surprise, but apologizing is a beneficial de-escalation technique. It is a way to show respect and empathy. Security guards should learn to acknowledge that something wrong has happened and apologize for legitimate grievances. Even by merely apologizing for what caused the person’s anger can decrease the adverse effects of conflict.
Angry individuals are less likely to follow demands. Instead of giving them orders, it is best to suggest or provide “question statements.” Provide them with a choice so they won’t feel ganged or restricted. For example, rather than saying, “Will you talk to me?” ask, “Would you rather explain the situation to me or to another officer?” Suggestions also eliminate combative responses, paving the way for more open communication.
De-escalation is an important skill that security officers must know. Having a good grasp of these techniques can provide you with a better chance of managing conflicts to ensure people’s safety.
If you are looking to broaden your skillset as a private security officer, Centre for Security offers a wide range of security guard and private investigator license courses in Toronto, Ontario. Our Defensive Tactics course covers risk and threat analysis and conflict resolution that will make you ready for the job.