Why de-escalation techniques are essential for workplace security

The state of current affairs around the world has made for a stressful global environment. Tensions are oftentimes running high, while patience can be at an all-time low. When tested, these factors can make for an explosive mix and lead to dangerous situations, particularly for those in workplace settings. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identifies those employees who work alone, late at night, or who are in high crime areas, as more likely to be subjected to an act of violence. And any employee who routinely engages with dissatisfied customers can likely attest to how quickly interactions can escalate out of control.

To help identify and combat situations such as these, the P4 Companies prioritize the use of de-escalation techniques as the primary tool in the use-of-force continuum. This philosophy is extended to when counseling clients and conducting training to enhance each location’s physical security profile. By educating employees on basic techniques, businesses and organizations can equip them with the necessary skills to delay aggression until assistance is available.

First, employees must be able to recognize physical and verbal cues to identify unstable situations. These may include:

  • A person clenching his or her fist
  • Clenching of the jaw
  • Sudden change in body language or tone used during a conversation
  • Fidgeting or pacing
  • Change in eye contact
  • Yelling, bullying, defying or refusing to comply with rules

Once an employee identifies one or more of these traits, the following simple steps should be implemented to help de-escalate the situation:

Remain Calm Getting upset will likely only escalate the situation. Instead, take a deep breath, use a low and dull tone of voice, and do not become defensive, even if insults are hurled.

Be Aware of Surroundings Survey the room to see who else might be there. Look to see what if there are chairs, tables, staplers, etc. within arm’s reach that could be used to injure someone.

Appear Non-Threatening Be mindful of body language. Do not point fingers and try to keep your hands open with palms showing.

Keep a Safe Distance Maintain a proper distance of 12 feet or more. Take note of where exits or openings are, and ensure the person is not blocked from them to make them feel trapped.

Make a Personal Connection Oftentimes, something as simple as asking for a name can help to quickly defuse the situation.

Listen to Concerns Validate their feelings and show empathy, even if you do not agree with them. Invite them to be part of the problem-solving process by asking for ideas or solutions, and turn the conversation in a forward-thinking manner by creating hope.

Get the Individual to Say Yes It is difficult for someone to stay angry if they are agreeing with you and your thought process.

The P4 Companies strongly advocate that each individual employee has a basic knowledge regarding situational awareness and possess techniques for de-escalation to enhance safety and security efforts. To find out more about how the P4 Companies can help you or your firm create a verbal de-escalation protocol, contact us here or call 312-502-1702.


*The P4 Companies are comprised of P4 Security Solutions (P4S) and P4 Protective Services (P4P). P4S is a full-service protection, training and consultation service provider. Learn more at p4secure.com. P4P offers customized Integrated Guarding Solutions, specifically for organizations and facilities requiring highly trained public safety officers. Learn more at p4protective.com.