Tag Archives: Deescalation

De-escalating Conflict

De-escalating Conflict

When emotions run high, you may find it impossible to resolve it. Why? Because anger, frustration, guilt or any other all-consuming feelings and thoughts can stop us from thinking clearly. Attitudes such as “how dare they” or “I will make them pay” stop us from doing what is best for us and the other person.

We sometimes forget how exhausting these emotions can be. My family’s own conflicts have sometimes lasted a generation and nobody really knows what caused it because the people originally involved have all passed away.

But conflict and ill-feelings can be passed on. On an international level, we see this played out in many conflicts. Sometimes, this is completely understandable, especially when we lose our loved ones to wars and other tragic events.


When emotions and tensions are high, thinking clearly about resolutions are difficult. Parties to a conflict or a dispute often seek resolutions when they feel depleted of energy and resources to continue carrying the burden of retaining sometimes devastating emotional reactions and behavioural patterns.

How can we reach that point before depleting our energy and time?

Humility and pragmatism. That’s the key.

From the outset, you need to ask yourself, what is this conflict going to achieve? Is it allowing me to grow or is it just directing my time, money and energy to a lost cause. Some people thrive on the drama of conflict but conflict that exhausts you and impacts your physical, emotional and mental well-being is never worth it.

I know you feel defeated. You may feel cheated. But talking about finding a constructive solution in cooperation with another is not a weakness but instead a great strength that allows you to grow and develop as a human being. At its best, it helps your businesses to run better, your relationships to be more fulfilling (whatever their context) and it gives you peace of mind and tranquillity. If that doesn’t appeal to you, ask yourself why.

The First Step

It’s about reaching out. What’s the worst that can happen? Rejection only signals that the timing is not quite right yet. I’m not suggesting that you humiliate yourself by requesting over and over again (there is definitely a limit that requires common sense judgment) but don’t be afraid of a reasonable amount of rejection.

Top Phrases:

  • I know you are angry/ frustrated/ confused/ irritated/ [etc] and I respect that. Would it be ok to talk with you about it ?
  • I would really like to talk to you about what’s going on between us and to try to put it behind us. We are both angry and upset but I think it would help us to move on if we could talk honestly about how we can move forward.
  • I am sincere in my attempts to try to work out a resolution with you in the hope that we can re-build our relationship. Would you be open to that ?

Often when we are in conflict with somebody, what we are really saying is “I am hurt by you and I want you to acknowledge that !” It’s extraordinary, but sometimes we feel it more acceptable to express that as anger or even anxiety rather than simply say that we feel vulnerable.

Start by recognising that in yourself and the other. Phrases like “I see that you are hurt and understand why”. If you get that analysis wrong, don’t worry, the other person may correct you and tell you what they really feel. An apology may help to de-escalate a conflict.

You also have a need to feel acknowledged and accepted so work out how you will tell them what you feel in a calm manner.

Words of Warning

Rejection is a possibility. Prepare yourself mentally for that.

You will need a great degree of self-awareness and kindness to yourself (and others) to achieve this skilfully. Using the phrases above and trying to see things from the other person’s perspective will help you to de-escalate high emotions.