De-escalation is a communication technique designed to reduce conflict, anger and the potential for future aggression or violence. Emotionally charged situations can escalate quickly, so it’s important for employees to stay well-informed on how to prevent this from happening. This article will go over the different conflict styles as well as methods on de-escalating conflict effectively.
Everyone handles conflict differently. Some try to avoid it while others prefer to face it head on. Personally, I tend to try to sweep things under the rug rather than resolving the conflict directly. I feel that this directly links to my personality type and my upbringing. Many may not be aware of how they may handle conflict in the future, so it’s important to be aware of your conflict style. There are five styles:
Now with this list, you should be able to identify which type of conflict style you identify with. Ideally, we would all want to have a collaborative conflict style at all times. However, with every conflict, emotions run high and it’s not always easy to keep a level head. Also, collaboration during a conflict is most successful with an objective facilitator who can guide the conversation. When dealing with conflict, there are many tips that we can follow to help de-escalate the conflict when there is no facilitator. The main thing is to take a step back and to take a deep breath. This can help when we are feeling defensive and emotional, and can help each person avoid making angry comments that they may regret later on. Another great thing to consider is to try being empathetic. By being able to understand how the person is feeling, we can admit our wrongdoings and move forward. It can also be helpful for both parties to concentrate less on the past and more on the future. Rather than focusing on how the conflict started, there should be discussion on how the future can improve if the conflict gets resolved.
Here are some resources on how to de-escalate workplace conflicts.
Sternberg, R. J., & Soriano, L. J. (2004). Styles of conflict resolution. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47(1), 115–126. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.52