1. Be empathetic and nonjudgmental
2. Respect Personal Space
3. Use Nonthreatening Nonverbals
4. Avoid Overreacting
5. Focus on Feelings
6. Ignore Challenging Questions
7. Set Limits
8. Choose Wisely What You Insist Upon
9. Allow Silence for Reflection
10. Allow time for Decisions

First, calm yourself before interacting with the person.
If you’re upset, it’s only going to escalate the situation. Calm down and then begin to look at the situation and how you can intervene safely.
Take a deep breath.
Use a low, dull tone of voice and don’t get defensive even if the insults are directed at you.
Becoming aware of your situation is also critically important. This can include:
Other people in the room,
Objects; such as chairs, tables, items on a table,
and the space around you, like exits or openings, and if you are blocking the person so that they are made to feel trapped.
Try to look as non-threatening as possible.
Appear calm and self-assured even if you don’t feel it.
Maintain limited eye contact and be at the same eye level. Encourage the customer to be seated, but if he/she needs to stand, stand up also.
Maintain a neutral facial expression.
Place your hands in front of your body in an open and relaxed position.
Don’t shrug your shoulders.
Don’t point your fingers at the person.
Avoid excessive gesturing, pacing, fidgeting, or weight shifting.
Maintain a public space distance, which is 12 feet or more.
Make a personal connection. Something as simple as asking, “What’s your name?” can diffuse a situation quickly.
People respond positively to their own name and can make the dialogue more personal.
Listening to the persons concerns. – Acknowledge the other person’s feelings without passing judgment on them.
Empathy needs to be shown during conflict situations. Even if you do not agree with the person’s position, expressing an understanding why that person feels a particular way will help resolve the conflict.
Clarifying, paraphrasing and open-ended questions all help to ensure that the person is aware you have understood their frustrations completely.
Ask to take notes.
Ask for their ideas or solutions.
Help them talk out angry feelings rather than act on them.
Shift the conversation to the future, create hope, and you make yourself less threatening.
Using “what” and “we” helps include the person in those future plans.
Get them to say yes.

Vashonte James, PsyD, LCSW