6 Steps To Deescalating Any Situation


Today my lunch date cancelled on me at the last minute. Selfishly, I spent the next forty-five minutes after finding this out swirling through a range of emotion while trying my best not to escalate a bummer situation into a full on big deal. Once I got a grip on myself I was able to think about all the things it takes to keep a situation from escalating unnecessarily and here’s what I came up with.

1. Feel your feeling but don’t let your feeling control your reaction.

If something truly upsetting happens feel free to take a minute and freak the fuck out. Boss send you a tongue and cheek, condescending email? Take a moment to feel angry that they’re such assholes but then reign that shit in because those are just feelings – more times than not they aren’t based in any real reality. Additionally, it is ok to feel a certain way about something. Actively trying not to be disappointed when you are disappointed isn’t healthy for your mental, emotional, or physical health. Allow yourself some grace to feel those feeling but understand that if you those guide how you respond no good will come.

2. Give yourself a minute.

… or any hour, or a day. Don’t ever feel pressured to respond to a situation when you haven’t properly taken the time you need to process what’s really going on. If you try to amend the problem while you’re still feeling upset (see above) you’re probably going to regret what comes next. If it’s a pressing matter that you can’t take all the time in the world to figure out remember to be urgent but not hasty.

3. Talk yourself through it.

Whenever I’m in any situation that I know can go from 0 – 60 in a matter of minutes I always talk to myself. It sounds crazy but sometimes saying what’s going on out loud can help you to realize how absurd your initial reaction might be. If talking to yourself sounds to out there for you call your mom or a close friend who you know will listen to you without jumping in right away and use them as a sounding board.

4. Put yourself in their shoes.

In other words, try to change your perspective on the situation by seeing it from their point of view. This isn’t always easy, but it becomes easier to do with maturity and is the best way to quickly get over a mishap or miscommunication. 9 times out of 10 tense situations are never about the other person but about our own drama/insecurities/feelings that we’re misdirecting at other things. If at least one person involved can take a step back and attempt to see things from both sides than you have a greater empathy for where everyone else might be coming from and thus less likely to react dramatically.

5. Take ownership for you part.

If the issue at hand is accusing you of something or calling you out on something and you’r reaction is defensive – that’s valid, it’s only human nature to get defensive when we feel we’re being attacked. However, don’t skip out on the blame or any acknowledgement that you did something at some point to make this all transpire. Be accountable for your actions and that small gesture usually deescalates everything with a snap of your fingers.

6. Be able to let it go.

Maybe I’ve been listening to too much of the Frozen soundtrack, but really at the end of the day you need to LET IT GO! Do you really want to spend precious time out of your life making unfortunate things into huge, tension filled situations? No, you don’t. Life is too short to have arguments over nothing. So your boss sent you a snarky email – so what, their your boss it’s in their job description to piss people off sometimes, when you’re the boss you’ll do the same thing. Ditto the whole lunch date situation. So what, he cancelled our date last minute, he’s human and he’s busy – while I’m allowed a small amount of time to be passively aggressively disappointed about it, there really isn’t time in my life to hold it against him. 90% of the time the things we escalate are really #firstworldproblems and as my mother use to say, “if you really want something to cry about, I’ll be sure to give you one.” Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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