Did you know that the number 57 in Heinz 57 has no real meaning at all? (try our cpi certificate or our crisis intervention training) I used to think it meant the company had 57 different products, but that’s not so. When the Heinz 57 catch phrase was developed, the company already had over 60 products! John Heinz just thought the number 57 sounded good. It was catchy and got attention.
In crisis de-escalation, the number 57 might represent the number of different ways you can approach a particular situation. In other words, the method of de-escalation that you use today, may not work tomorrow. What might work to help little Johnny right now, may not work to help little Johnny in an hour. So, you’ll have to reach into your bag of 57 tricks and come up with another that might do the job.
It’s important that we remain flexible. We don’t want to get too locked into a certain process of de-escalation with an individual, thinking it’s going to work every time. It might work for a while, but then one day, it doesn’t work and, now, you’re at a loss. You’re left wondering, “What am I going to do? What am I going to say? How am I going to handle this?” You must develop your skill set ahead of time so that you have a variety of options from which to choose. Maybe you could try humor. Perhaps you could try to get them take a leisurely walk to a different location, or walk outside, or take a breath of fresh air, or help them count to ten, or try the, “How can I help you?” technique.
Concentrate most on making sure you are flexible. Make sure that you are not so rigid, that it’s your way or the highway. Make sure to avoid thinking that the only way the other person is going to de-escalate effectively, is if it gets done the exact same was as the last time. Different things work for different people at different times. You have to master the ability to be flexible in your interventions. Sometimes it’s most appropriate to allow someone the opportunity de-escalate on their own. It may be a time where all 57 of your interventions are not providing the right “flavor”.