De-escalation tactics can prevent violence in the workplace

Employees in a variety of occupations can find themselves in situations with the potential to exposed to violence at work. De-escalation tactics can be used to defuse volatile situations so they don’t reach the point of violence.

What is de-escalation?

De-escalation is one technique that can be used when confronted with violent or aggressive behavior.

According to professionals, de-escalation means “transferring your sense of calm and genuine interest in what an individual wants to tell you by using respectful, clear, limit-setting boundaries.” In short, de-escalation is the process of managing someone else’s behavior with your own.

How does the concept of de-escalation intersect with workplace safety?

As workplace violence remains a continuously growing threat, many industries are beginning to utilize the benefits of de-escalation training.

These industries include:

  • Education/academic settings
  • Healthcare
  • Policing/public service
  • Social work

Are there some general de-escalation tactics that apply universally?

While specific threats vary among industries, Jason Clausen, a Loss Prevention Specialist at SFM, notes that many de-escalation tactics apply universally.

“These tactics all require a state of calm, and operate around the cornerstone of active listening,” he said.

General de-escalation tactics that apply universally include:

  • Respecting personal space
  • Maintaining safe body positioning
  • Giving clear, concise direction
  • Setting obvious boundaries
  • Conveying empathy
  • Establishing positive tone of voice

De-escalation resources

De-escalation training can be helpful to employees in many fields. To learn more about de-escalation, view these SFM resources:


Originally published December 2020

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