What do most people do to disarm someone or deescalate a situation?

Nothing, because by the time they realize the interaction is off the rails, it’s too late.

You tell them to “Calm down!” How did that work for you?

“I am calm!” they scream.

Never get into the weeds with someone because, if you do, YOU LOSE. Even if you “win” an argument, the other person will resent you for it, and they’ll feel attacked.

If you care about appealing to the other person’s reasonableness, you aren’t going to do that if they’re defensive. Even if you know you’re right – even if they’re arguing that the sky is green, if they are triggered, they are going to react with emotion; that’s their defense.

What can you do? Pause first. Let them get it all out. Let them vent without reacting. THEN, you’ll be able to inject some reasonableness into the situation. Then:

  1. Validate. Validating someone isn’t admitting they’re wrong. It’s just acknowledging they feel that way. It is the OPPOSITE of what occurs in most arguments when it’s a tug of war over who’s right (and each person constantly talks over the other).
  2. Empathize. Empathy is shown with a connecting statement. “I get how you feel that way. I remember feeling that way too…”
  3. Partner. Partnership answers the question “Where do we go from here?” It’s something you do together that involves finding common ground. Here, you’ve got to relinquish your need to be right. You will never convince anyone of anything, but least of all when they’re defensive. If you follow these steps and they can’t see your reasonableness, it wasn’t worth your energy anyway. So it’s time to compromise.

Remember, people will always rise up or come down to your energy level. Never get into the weeds with them, because you’ll lose the battle of wills.