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  • Writer's pictureNathan Fredrickson

Rules for De-Escalating Potential Violence with Active Listening

Active Listening is an important element in the de escalation process. The simple act of listening is one of the most effective methods for de escalating a tense situation.

While actively listening to the upset individual you will also be able to observe the physical signs of potentially aggressive behavior.

Rule 1: Listen - Provide your undivided attention by:

  • Avoid the use of your mobile device

  • Find an area that reduces the potential of distraction

  • Be aware of your own body language. Are you crossing your arms, which shows that you may be closed off or defensive? Are you frowning?

  • Take notes

Rule 2: Acknowledge - Sensing the emotions that the individual is feeling, saying doing things like:

You sound really frustrated right now.”

  • “I didn’t realize you were feeling this way.”

  • Use their name (but not too much)

  • Repeat back what they said

  • Speak slowly and in a soft tone

  • Maintain eye contact 65% of the time

Rule 3: Agree - Even when there is only a shred of truth in what the individual is saying, attempt to find something you can agree with. Agreeing will often take down resistance.

  • Try to find the smallest morsel of truth in their words…no matter how small

  • Do not attempt to reason with them

  • Provide possible options to their concerns

Rule 4: Apologize - Sincerely apologize for anything said or done that was unjust.

  • "You're right. That doesn't seen fair

  • "I'm sorry you are feeling this way."

Rule 5: Allow Criticism - This one is tough! Encourage and allow the individual to share their criticism.

  • "Please tell me everything that has you upset.”

  • "Don’t hold back. I want to hear everything you are angry about.”

REMEMBER: While Active Listening watch for these VERBAL DON’TS in yourself: Don’t roll your eyes, Don’t make false promises, Don’t raise your voice, Don’t say “calm down”, Don’t lose your temper, Don’t argue, and Don’t interrupt the individual.

Active Listening is part of EPI Investigations's comprehensive De-Escalation training. For more information, contact Nate Fredrickson today to learn more: 605-601-4657 or email

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