I've often stated to groups that Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® is really just a common sense approach to managing assaultive and disruptive behavior. You don't need a master's degree to understand and use the concepts in the course. Human-service professionals are not limited to the interventions discussed in the program either. The following are some ideas that me and my most recent group of participants came up with.
Be polite. It costs absolutely nothing, but can generate huge benefits. People, whether irate or not, appreciate being spoken to and treated in a polite manner. This can have a calming effect on them. You also end up role-modeling the appropriate behavior for both staff and those in your charge. I find that it even has a calming effect on me.
Find common ground. This means develop rapport, but also try to find something that you have in common with those in your care. People are less likely to be hostile toward you when they know you share the same interests as they do. You can also use the mutual-interest subject matter as a way to distract escalating individuals. Bonus points!
Avoid revisiting the crisis. People don't appreciate being reminded about an "episode" they may have had. Why bring it up? It's like pouring salt in a wound. Granted, it is important to engage in debriefing with the individual to find out what happened, why it happened, and how to prevent it from happening again. However, we can accomplish this without playing the blame game or highlighting their recent dilemma. Especially don't bring it up if you weren't even there in the first place.
Ask what they need. I've often said that crisis behavior is "needy behavior." If someone is anxious, they need someone to show that they care. If someone is defensive, they need someone to provide direction. Often times, staff don't realize or can't identify the need. I have found that simply asking the person in crisis what they need serves to de-escalate the behavior. For one thing, it shows empathy, and for another, the question helps staff focus on how to de-escalate. People usually calm down once their needs are met.
Finally, call our toll-free number when you have questions or need to speak with a Professional Staff Instructor. You'll get a real live person instead of a recorded menu message, and the consultation is free. You can also find additional intervention and de-escalation methods in previous blog posts.