Hints for De-escalating a Conflict


  1. Speak softer.
  2. Speak more slowly.
  3. Look person in the eye.
  4. Body language: Relaxed, take a deep, slow breath, legs and arms uncrossed. Take another deep breath. Sit or stand at eye level; neither one of you up or down.
  5. Keep reminding yourself, "We can find a win-win resolution to this." and remind the other person too.
  6. Ask for a break, if necessary, to collect your thoughts — have a time-out to release the energy and tension if the tension is getting in the way of resuming.
  7. Give "I" messages.
  8. Repeat messages and clarify often. "I think I heard you say…"; "I’m not sure, but it sounds like you want…"; "Could you explain that to me again?"
  9. Remember to breathe.
  10. Watch your language. Words that escalate a conflict are: never, always, unless, can’t, won’t, don’t, should, shouldn’t, mustn’t, better not.
  11. Words that de-escalate a conflict are: maybe, what if, I feel, it seems like, I think, sometimes, perhaps, I wonder.
  12. Affirm and acknowledge the position and needs of the other(s): "I can appreciate your situation…"; "It sounds hard for you to…"; "Thank you for your…".