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 emulate them and what I thought they did. I strived to be the best de-escalator in the whole hospital.
Years later, in line with those experiences and that mindset, I wrote my first book, “Calm Every Storm – Preventing Aggressive Behavior with Your Words”, as a collection of over 80+ tips and techniques for de-escalation. They are unique and helpful in providing the reader with strategies that can be utilized right away to mitigate challenging situations. Many readers of the book have found it to be very helpful and have actually taken the time to reach out to me and let me know that they have used the methods during some very hostile and threatening situations. I am surely happy to hear that.
Our crisis intervention prevention training curriculum that I developed with the help of a few key individuals on my team, has also served to empower over 350,000 people at the time of this writing.* I know it has had a wonderful impact on helping to “calm the world down” and lessen the intensity of crisis situations many responders face. Our physical intervention / passive restraint system has been utilized in 39 states, and internationally with great success. At the time of this writing*, with over 15 years of use, there have been no sentinel events (deaths) or major injuries associated with our techniques. I am confident that will remain the case in the future as well. Our proprietary physical intervention technique, taught to be utilized when facing imminent danger is one of, if not the most effective method taught in the industry to mitigate violent behavior, hands down.
Even with all these fantastic, exciting, and positive results, I have always felt like “techniques” were truly not the total solution. I have continued to see persons who have also been taught the “techniques” struggle as I have at times during simple, or complex crisis situations. I have witnessed the struggle to master the “art” of communication, and the failure to connect and engage with the individual in crisis. I have felt for many recent years that there was far more to de-escalation than what I had experienced thus far. *4/20/2020
Nearly two decades later, having the opportunity to train all over the country and internationally, speaking to thousands of people in nearly every type of workplace, with all levels of experience and backgrounds, I have come to know and realize that having the right skill set is only a part of successful de-escalation, not the whole.
I know that the majority of crisis intervention and de-escalation programs in the industry continue to focus nearly 100% on the behavior and mindset of the individual in crisis, vs. being laser focused on the behavior and mindset of the RESPONDER. This is the downfall of the current de-escalation training industry. Instead of focusing on a particular word, phrase, technique, method, process, etc. the focus needs to be on the responder themselves and the fundamental “laws” of de-escalation.
To put it more clearly and use a short analogy; A toilet plunger is a very handy and effective tool, when you know how to use it properly. If you do not use it properly, with the right amount of pressure, the right angle, the right timing, you can end up very quickly making a huge mess and standing in a puddle of feces.
Similar to a crisis situation, you may have the right de-escalation techniques, but without the right mindset, the right “footing”, the right philosophy, or understanding of the fundamental “laws”, you will likely create a far “shittier” situation, and fail to resolve the issue at all.
Plumbers are expensive. Why? Because they get into the shittiest situations that no one else wants to deal with, and they fix it. Most of us will not desire to join the plumber in his work, nor will we even want to watch. We are disgusted, feel embarrassed and uncomfortable with the situation as a whole, and are not truly prepared for what that plumber has to deal with. That plumber though, is happy. To start with, they come into your house with the right mindset. They have the right boots. They have the right gloves. They carry the right tools, and recognize the importance of what they are doing, the success or “money” they will make, and know it’s up to them to fix it. They know how valuable and needed they are, at that exact moment. Yes, that is the goal of this book. I want to help you to be the best dang de-escalation “plumber” there is.
Thank you for taking the time to read this book, I do believe wholeheartedly that if we all can remember these fundamentals before, during, and after the next crisis we face, we can truly change the world, and be a part of helping to calm it down, and continue to “Calm Every Storm”
CEO and Founder
Crisis Consultant Group, Inc