How to Put Out Fires, Not Start Them

Brendan King 

The 15 Fundamental Laws of De- Escalation
How to Put Out Fires, Not Start Them 

© 2020 by Brendan King All Rights Reserved 

All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express written consent of the copyright holder. 

Preface

In the early years of working in mental health and crisis prone workplace environments, I was repeatedly taught (and had come to believe) that learning the right thing to say, using the right language, or having the right “process” during a crisis was the most important factor.  For this reason, I attempted to soak up and learn as many de-escalation “techniques” as I could.  I watched the pro’s that I worked with.  I studied their interactions and the responses of the individuals they were dealing with.  I listened to every nuance in their tone of voice, their inflections, and their body language.  I read their debriefs.  I asked questions. I truly did everything I could to [...]

Preface2021-07-23T12:09:34-04:00

Law 1: Care More Than Others Deserve

John Maxwell is well known to have said “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”.  I believe this is the most important determining factor related to your ability to de-escalate a person in crisis.    Period, end of story.   Demonstrating genuine care and concern for another human being in crisis is not always easy.  For some, this comes naturally.  For others this is nearly impossible.  For the majority, if we remember to focus on it, and pay attention to it, and apply it to every word and action that leaves our body when responding, we will be very likely [...]

Law 1: Care More Than Others Deserve2021-07-23T12:17:31-04:00

Law 2: Be the First to Try

When you are faced with a crisis, or a challenging situation, it is important that you are the “first” to move towards a solution.  What this means is that you need to try and implement the first course of action to resolve the situation or provide an alternative to the individual that leads them to a better point in time.    For example: Asking permission to start over.    “You are angry, and I can understand why” “Can we try and start over?”  or  “You are frustrated, and I can definitely relate to that”   “Are you willing to let me try and help with this?”  “I understand you [...]

Law 2: Be the First to Try2021-07-23T12:21:04-04:00

Law 3: Listen to What’s Not Being Said

Of equal importance to what is being said, you must also pay great attention to what is not being said (at least verbally). There are many statistics and studies out there regarding body language, hand positions, stances, eye contact vs. no eye contact, etc. All of these things are critical to getting inside of the individual’s mind during a crisis. Many persons in crisis cannot fully verbalize what they are feeling without extreme outbursts of emotion. Vulgar language can color the sentences and cloud the listening ability of the responder if they are not prepared or ready for such words. Tone [...]

Law 3: Listen to What’s Not Being Said2021-07-23T12:27:43-04:00

Law 4: Seek Harmony, Not Balance

When you engage in de-escalation with an individual in crisis, you should seek to find harmony, not balance.     Harmony = connection and ease of use    Harmony = engagement with purpose   Harmony = rapport without measurement  Balance = finding equality between weights and measure   Balance = attempting to ensure there is equal accountability and responsibility   Balance = a constant give and take of intelligent conversation   All of the things that balance is and represents are great when dealing with a person not in crisis.  When dealing with a person who is not mentally unstable, or mentally ill.  When dealing with a person that can hold calm [...]

Law 4: Seek Harmony, Not Balance2021-07-23T12:30:32-04:00

Law 5: Two Vs. One

You must remember in any crisis situation that you were born with two ears, and only one mouth. You are meant to listen more than you speak.  While we discussed the idea of listening for what is not being said, you must also strive to listen more, and talk less.    The most glaring place where this point has been made is in my personal life, in relationships. I am a problem solver.  I think and create, and resolve, and move, and adapt, and overcome.  I am constantly scanning; I am constantly seeking to pick up on changes in my environment and looking to resolve any confrontation near me.  In the airport, [...]

Law 5: Two Vs. One2021-07-23T12:40:48-04:00

Law 6: What You Think vs. What You Know

What do you know?!!! What do you know, King??! What do you know!!  I remember the police academy instructor yelling this at me over and over.  Loud, forceful, aggressive.  In my ear, behind me, while in a scenario-based training.  I was tasked to handle the situation very quickly, and make a decision based on the information I had at that time.  The information I had been given was very little.    “Man in the apartment building with a gun.”  I am at the bottom of the stairs.  The man is standing at the top of the apartment stairs, his side facing me, a handgun in his right hand, pointed slightly downward towards the landing front of him.  He [...]

Law 6: What You Think vs. What You Know2021-07-23T12:45:15-04:00

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