How to De-escalate a Situation

How to De-escalate a Situation

Understanding how to de-escalate a situation is an essential aspect of security. When you have a security guard on duty, their presence generally helps to deter crime and keep tempers under control. However, it’s a good idea to understand some basic de-escalation techniques in case you’re in a vulnerable place. 

Key Takeaways

  • Stay calm. 
  • Understand that anger can be a sign of distress, fear, or frustration. 
  • It’s not always possible to reason or problem-solve with an angry person. 
  • Effective communication skills are key to de-escalating a situation. 
  • Follow the LOWLINE technique: Listen, Offer, Wait, Look, Incline, Nod, Express. 

Learning How to De-escalate a Situation with the LOWLINE Technique

lowline deescalation technique

If you have a potentially violent situation and believe the conditions are safe for deescalation, you can try the LOWLINE techniques detailed by M. Lowry in 2016. The approach uses communication, empathy, and active listening to de-escalate difficult situations. 

From customer service to nursing, this model has helped people in numerous professions. It involves the use of 6 techniques. 


When you have to deal with an angry, potentially violent person, it’s tempting to respond quickly. However, knowing how to de-escalate a situation means using active listening skills. Moreover, it’s important to understand that listening is key across every technique in LOWLINE. 

Active listening involves paying attention to nonverbal communication, such as facial expressions and body language, and paraverbal communication, such as tone of voice. 

  • Use open-ended questions to gather more information. 
  • Provide encouragement to get them to elaborate on a topic.
  • Paraphrase their responses to help them feel heard. 
  • Reflect their feelings to show that they are heard and understood.
  • Summarize the interaction to help them see the full situation. 

Additionally, non-directive feedback will help you find the root of the issue. This involves using guiding questions or statements, not demands or commands. 

  • “Can you tell me more about that?”
  • “Please help me understand what happened.”


Offer the individual an opportunity to vent their frustrations. Don’t use this moment to contradict them. Instead, validate their feelings and offer them some empathy. 

  • Avoid promising something unattainable. 
  • Give them a range of realistic options. 
  • Explain what can be done when and by whom. 
  • Commit to a realistic timeline for a resolution. 

deescalation techniques


If you really want to know how to de-escalate a situation, it’s important to understand that patience is essential. When there’s a silence, don’t rush to fill it. Instead, give them time to think and respond. If it starts to feel awkward, count to ten in your head before you respond. 


  • Look at the person but don’t stare at them. 
  • Pay attention to their facial expressions and body language. 
  • Do your best to maintain a neutral expression. 
  • Smile when it feels appropriate. 


Incline or tilt your head to the side. This can be a non-verbal signal of interest in what the person is saying. 


Nod when it’s appropriate. This can help you show a maintained willingness to listen without interrupting them. 


Expressing empathy as you listen shows that you have a desire to understand their situation. Here are a few examples of empathetic statements. 

  • I can see how that made things worse. 
  • So that’s what made things worse for you. 
  • I can see why you feel that way. 

These simple statements can show that you understand where they’re coming from. This level of empathy is crucial when you want to know how to de-escalate a situation. Another active listening skill is paraphrasing

This tool helps you show empathy while validating the other person. You simply reword what they said and summarize it, pointing out what they mentioned as the root cause. 

de-escalating a situation

Final Thoughts

Understanding how to de-escalate a situation is an essential part of maintaining the safety and security of your workplace or event. When you work with a professional security guard company, you can see the difference because a confident, empathetic approach to de-escalation goes a long way.