Knowing how to calm someone down in a conflict situation is a really valuable skill. Conflict management and de-escalation expert Stephanie Rumble shares three practical tips.

Here are three ways to calm someone down without them even knowing that you’re doing this.

  • The first is communicating effectively.
  • The second is finding another space for you and the other person to interact in.
  • The third is keeping your information super simple, or KISS.

1. Communicating effectively

Our communication is made up of three parts:

  • One is verbal, the words we say, that makes up around 7% of our communication.
  • The second part is the way we say things, our paraverbal communication. For example, things like our tone of voice, our pitch, our volume and our speed, all tell the other person how we feel. The way we say things makes up around 38% of our communication. This is super important in New Zealand culture, because we’re often less direct with our words. It’s really important have an even rhythm to our speech, to talk more on the slow side, with a low pitch, and loudly enough to be heard.
  • The third part of our communication is nonverbal communication. It’s about what we do with our body and the lower part of our face. Nonverbal communication makes up around 55% of our communication.
  • When you’re trying to de-escalate somebody or calm them down it’s really important that you keep your face appropriate and neutral, and you keep your body language open. For example, make sure you don’t look annoyed. Make sure your gestures don’t seem aggressive or rough.

2. Find another space

The second way to help calm someone else down is to find another space. We may find that when we are in a tense situation with a client, customer, friend or whānau member, there are other people around them who are making the situation worse.

Taking that person somewhere quiet, where they can relax a little, may just defuse and calm the situation in that moment.

3. Keep the Information Super Simple (KISS)

The third way to calm another person down is to make sure the information that you are giving is really simple. Think of the acronym KISS, keep it super simple.

Keeping things simple is about not overloading someone’s short-term memory. On a good day, we remember about five things in our short term memory. On a bad day we remember three, so it’s important that you don’t give the other person more than three important points at a time, or they might become overwhelmed and stressed.

In summary, the three ways to calm someone else:

  1. Communicate effectively.
  2. Find another space.
  3. Keep information super simple.

If you’d like to learn more about Stephanie’s highly regarded workplace de-escalation training workshops, please get in touch.