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You Can De-Escalate with Kindness!

Things don’t always go kindly. At work, at home and in the community. As times get tougher and the difficulties brought on by COVID-19 and the new Omicron variant last longer than people expected and hoped for, many are disappointed, frustrated and feel like they just can’t take it any more. And when that happens, tempers can flare, and situations can escalate.

As leaders (and all of us are leaders at some point in our day, whether we have a formal title or not), we can help people learn and practice behaviors to de-escalate situations…with kindness!

Here are some ideas for you to practice and model to others:

  1. Understand what situations trigger an emotional response for you. Notice associated body reactions (frowning, clenching your fists) that happen before you are going to act or react unkindly. Monitor yourself closely when you notice those triggers!

  2. Pay attention to the noise level! If voices are raised and tones shrill, lower your own voice and tone. Others will follow your lead. It’s called “coregulation” and it helps lower levels of stress and emotion too.

  3. Call for a time out! Use the T hand signal and ask the person to reschedule your conversation at another time. After people “sleep on it”, and you’ve both had time to calm down it will be easier to communicate in a calm and kind way.

  4. Step back, physically and mentally! Walk away. Simply turn around and walk away. Walking away doesn’t mean you are weak, it means that you have the strength to control yourself, your emotions and to act and react with kindness so others learn to do so as well.

As a leader, your actions and words model how others should act and react, and they create culture: of your organization your family and society. When you start practicing deescalation, others will follow!

(For more practical ways to act, speak and think kindly, please pick up a copy of The Kind Leader, and please share this story and graphic with others.)

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