​At a glance

When there are signs of anger or verbal aggression it is important to remember that:

  • you need to stay calm
  • anger may be a sign that the person is in distress, experiencing fear or frustrated
  • it is not possible to reason or problem solve with someone who is enraged
  • effective communication skills are the key to settling, resolving and de-escalating a situation.

Use the strategies below to de-escalate a situation:

  • Listen to what the issue is and the person's concerns.
  • Offer reflective comments to show that you have heard what their concerns are.
  • Wait until the person has released their frustration and explained how they are feeling.
  • Look and maintain appropriate eye contact to connect with the person.
  • Incline your head slightly, to show you are listening and give you a non-threating posture.
  • Nod to confirm that you are listening and have understood.
  • Express empathy to show you have understood.

It is not your job to stop the person being angry, but these steps may help to make the person feel calmer. It is only then that you can look at how to deal with the situation and their concerns.

In a situation like this, workers can panic because they don’t know how to “stop” the anger, and they need to know that periods of intense anger do not last. … intense feelings like anger naturally dissipate as time passes.

- A person with lived experience of a mental health condition

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Resources

De-escalation Techniques
This web page has 10 things you can do to de-escalate a situation when someone is angry.
Type: Fact sheet
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Produced by: Ambulance Tasmania

Facilitate responsible behaviour
This is a free online eLearning module which covers monitoring of client behaviour, communication strategies to de-escalate conflict and managing conflict. In order to access this training, you will need to set up an account.
Type: eLearning
Produced by: QCOSS Community Door

Page Updated: Monday 20 January 2020
Contact page owner: Mental Health Branch