De-escalation Tip of the Day: Allow Time for Decisions

September 29, 2017
Two pairs of hands clasped together.

Today’s top CPI de-escalation tip, allow time for decisions, dovetails nicely with yesterday’s post about allowing silence for reflection. In the classic novel, Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes wrote, “Time ripens all things. No man is born wise.” 
I suspect that of all the top de-escalation tips we’ve explored over the last two weeks, allowing time might be one of the hardest tips to implement, both in our personal lives and at work. We all feel the pressure of time—in the rush to get to the next patient, to restore focus to the classroom, or to help a loved one regain their composure—taking a few minutes to simply let somebody else think clearly feels like a luxury. I recently said to a friend of mine here at work, “I have to tell myself sometimes to stop, drop, and be mindful.”
Allowing time for decisions means that we must have faith in the abilities of the person in crisis. We need to trust that our behavior will impact theirs in a positive way, and that with a few calm, clarifying moments, a person in crisis can make a decision that redirects them from their distress. We can make sure that this is possible by creating an environment for a person in crisis that supports them to think clearly with the time that we’ve provided. Have we removed any audience or bystanders? Is the area free of potential hazards? Are we in a Supportive Stance, displaying nonthreatening body language?
Finally, allowing time can be about more than just de-escalation. As the person or team leader of persons facilitating de-escalation, you should allow yourself time to debrief afterward. I would encourage you to explore this outstanding, in-depth debriefing resource written by my colleague Erin Harris with CPI training expert Pam Roncone. In addition to exploring the phases of escalation and supportive responses that are outlined in the Crisis Development Model, a free video presentation is included that challenges you to maximize the time you take in debriefing to prevent stressful situations from repeating themselves—because Postvention is one of the best methods of crisis prevention.
As President John F. Kennedy once said, “We must use time as a tool, not a couch.” Our days are full and our work is challenging—investing time wisely can help prevent crises, facilitate healing, and empower individuals to make better, more rational choices. As a CPI Certified Instructor recently shared, “Spend 5 to save 20.” Time afforded to an individual in distress is never wasted—dare to be generous.

Allow Time for Decisions

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