PROMPT: What is a subject or activity you have a lot of knowledge around?

Well, to be honest, I know A LOT about de-escalation in customer service…probably not the most exciting topic, but it has served me well and this advice can help others, for sure.

I used my skills, quite often, to de-escalate my abusive former husband. True story. It didn’t always work, but it did about 90% of the time, so I’d say I’m pretty good at it. I am still in a customer service role for the federal social services agency that I work for. I keep receiving rave reviews about my skills. My favorite comment to-date: “Thank you for being understanding and real…and especially for having a personality. You’re great!”

Here, in a nutshell, is my secret:

  1. Acknowledge the issue
  2. Listen carefully to the person, first, taking notes if needed; repeat back what is said, if needed, for understanding and clarification
  3. Give the problem a fresh pair of eyes (no bias or judgements)
  4. If you don’t know, say so, investigate, then get back with the person
  5. Give the person options, if there is more than one avenue (helps the person take some ownership and control)
  6. Ask if you may involve management, at any point in the process, if needed
  7. Conclude that the issue is resolved and if you can help any further

So, a few tips, here:

  • Kindness and respect always. You can tell the person that you need. to step away at any point, because tensions are high and things are heated. If you have to do this, assure that you will get back with them and use this time to investigate some. You don’t have to feel attacked.
  • Use language that doesn’t involve you personally. Instead of saying “I’m sorry,” use “Apologizes for that” or “that’s unfortunate.” Then follow it up with, “Lets’ see how we can remedy this situation – shall we?” You’re giving validity to their issue, that you. are willing to help solve, you’re just not making it solely your problem.
  • Always listen without bias. You’re a fresh pair of ears and eyes, so treat it accordingly.
  • Research, research, research!

So, back to using approach with my Abuser. I usually lost him on Step #4 (above). He’d either lose interest/ferver, I’d catch him in an outright lie, or if I asked him too many questions would catch him cheating. Many times I got things resolved and he’d bring up a totally different issue — and I’d repeat the process.

I don’t recommend using it on Abusers, I just noticed how similar to the Grey Rock method it was. *Shrugs* It’s a manner survival for me, in all facets. I guess I should be pretty expert at it — wouldn’t you say?