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Choi Kwang Do of North Florida

De-escalation and Conflict Resolution

De-escalation and Conflict Resolution

Posted: April 10, 2019

As Choi Kwang Do is a non-contact sport, our practice stresses there are alternate options to violence or contact when resolving conflict. Learning how to de-escalate conflicts in an effective manner is a skill that can not only protect you in personal positions, but bystanders in by-chance situations as well.

Anticipating potential conflict is important for preparedness. Watch for the variety of verbal and non-verbal cues that can warn when a conflict is going to arise.

These include:

  • A person clenching his or her fists or tightening and untightening their jaw.
  • A sudden change in body language or tone.
  • Inconsistent eye contact.
  • The “Rooster Stance” – chest protruding out more and arms more away from the body.
  • Disruptive behaviors – yelling, bullying, actively defying or refusing to comply with rules.

What can we do in order to help de-escalate a situation of conflict? A few precautions can be taken in order to resolve the situation positively and effectively.

1. Listen

Listening is a powerful tool. When other people don’t feel heard, they can see you as a threat.

  • Listening to other’s 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.

2. Apologize for your contribution/personalization

Very few conflicts are entirely the fault or responsibility of only one party. To de-escalate the conflict, accept responsibility for your contribution and apologize for it. There’s almost always a way you contributed to the conflict escalating.

  • 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.

3. Control your tone and body language

Your presence introduces yourself before you do. Body language and tone of voice can change someone’s perspective of you instantly. If you look threatening, you are now threatening. Be mindful of your own contributions to the conflict, even your unconscious facial expressions.

  • 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. 
  • Maintain a neutral facial expression.

Remember, no person, group or set of precautions can guarantee that a conflict will proceed constructively. If de-escalation is not working, stop! If the situation feels unsafe, leave and call for help. But, it’s important to educate everyone – others and ourselves, on techniques to better prepare us to resolve conflict in a non-contact fashion.