As a security guard, you never really know what kind of situation awaits you whenever you start a new shift. Hopefully, it is uneventful, and you can return home without any stories to tell. However, from time to time, you will have a situation, potentially a dangerous one, arise. One of our security guards was recently working a residential security detail in Arlington VA and encountered a person who was irate about being prevented from loitering in a restricted area. This situation could have gotten ugly if the security guard did not handle it correctly. Fortunately, in this case, the guard was able to resolve the situation peacefully.
Most professional security companies like us have been through many of these situations ourselves and understand the importance of learning de-escalation techniques. We are acutely aware that security companies with guards that know de-escalation techniques have fewer incidents that turn violent. Whether it is handling a suspect making threatening, responding to a person who is making unreasonable requests or random unruly individuals, here are some helpful techniques to remember.
Understand The Warning Signs
There are a few different warnings signs you need to be aware of. Naturally, you probably don’t know the person. As a result, you are not aware of their past behavior or what their capabilities. However, some verbal warnings that often lead to physical violence include:
* A direct threat
* Conditional or veiled threat
* Boasting of previous violent encounters
* Higher tone of voice as this means the throat is tightening
* Yelling, slurring, extensive profanity and forced speech
* Laughter at an odd time or inappropriate time
Some physical warning signs that might point to a possible violence
* Impeaching personal space (or standing toe to toe)
* Finger pointing
* Staring “through you”
* Heavy breathing and flaring nostrils
* Refuses to make eye contact
* Making fists
* Flush face
De-Escalation Tips for Security Guards
When trying to calm down a situation, there are some general pointers you need to keep in mind. These are different from the actual techniques but can help improve the chance of the methods working. It is best to use as many of these pointers as possible, including:
* Speak slowly
* Use the person’s name
* Give options and ask for what the person’s idea is for a solution
* Use small, simple words
* Maintain about 65 percent eye contact
* Restate for clarification
Regarding the eye contact, do not overdo your eye contact. Maintaining eye contact for too long can often make someone who is already upset feel threatened. So make eye contact but don’t hold it for too long.
Techniques to Use
With all of those small pointers in mind, you can now incorporate it into the different methods you use for de-escalating a situation. Remember, it often can take some time to de-escalate a situation, so stick with these various techniques for greater success.
* Obtain the person’s name
* Suspend judgment
* Understand where they are coming from
* Avoid the standard lines
When faced with a confrontation or other possibly dangerous situation, the first thing you want to do is learn the person, or person’s, name. This way, instead of saying “you,” you can refer to the individual by their first name. This automatically creates a more of a personal connection.
Now that you have their name (and are using it) make sure to listen. Listen to what they have to say and why they feel the way they do. You want to understand the source of their behavior. If someone feels like they are being heard, it helps calm them down. People don’t want to feel like they are out there on their own. So, when you listen and understand them, it will help defuse.
Avoid saying the standard “calm down.” That doesn’t work. In fact, it is more likely to make someone more upset. You don’t want that at all. So skip the standard lines and suspend judgment. It isn’t your place to judge. It is your place to de-escalate the situation and make everyone feel safe.
Safe and Sound
By following through with these different tips and techniques, you have a better chance of reducing any possible dangerous situations and keep everyone as safe as possible.