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 to successfully resolve a challenging situation. What exactly does it take to “care more than others deserve”? This requires a number of skills, focused beliefs, and surely the right attitude.
When considering crisis intervention skills; first is patience. You must be patient. I used to teach the concept “people recover on their own time, not yours”, which meant that we needed to respect others for where they are and what they may need in that exact moment. They may need us to simply shut up and just listen. They may need ideas; they may need us to wait for them to figure it out on their own. Regardless of what they need at that moment we must practice patience to allow them the “space” to move through it.
Focused beliefs: It is vital that we have examined our own beliefs about others in general, as well as the individual themselves. We must realize that if we are already holding particular beliefs about a particular culture, ethnicity, gender, age, race, religion, sexual identity, political beliefs, financial position, social status, education, professional role, family history, etc. any one or all of them will impact the way we view an individual, and can surely impact our ability and/or willingness to intervene or assist a person in crisis. If we are at odds with the individual due to these beliefs it can and will distract us or even deter us from trying to help. It may hamper our ability to demonstrate care and concern for the person. Therefore, it is vital for us to examine ourselves regularly, and the ideas we have come to believe in regarding other people, and ensure we are not guilty of unfairly stereotyping a particular person, based on the actions of others.
Lastly, caring more than others deserve requires an attitude of gratitude. You must hold yourself to a higher standard, each and every day. It has been said that your attitude determines your altitude in life – thereby, you can directly direct your upward or downward path simply based on your attitude.
If you respond to a crisis situation with a negative, impatient, disrespectful, uncaring, or otherwise disingenuous attitude, you are headed towards trouble. The opposite being that by holding a positive mindset and attitude, your outlook and emotion of possibilities and potential can rub off on the other person in the crisis. Your outward expression of hope and positive energy can and will directly impact the other person and will challenge them to see the “good” or “possibilities” of the situation they face.
Einstein stated: “There is no force in the universe strong enough to repel the power of a positive mind”. With that type of energy focused on an individual in need, how could they resist the temptation to a path of peace, and resolution?