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Diffusing Aggression Charlotte Kauffman, M.A., L.C.P.C. Service Systems Coordinator Department of Human Services – Division of Mental Health

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Presentation on theme: "Diffusing Aggression Charlotte Kauffman, M.A., L.C.P.C. Service Systems Coordinator Department of Human Services – Division of Mental Health"— Presentation transcript:

1 Diffusing Aggression Charlotte Kauffman, M.A., L.C.P.C. Service Systems Coordinator Department of Human Services – Division of Mental Health 217-524-8383


3 What exactly is aggression? It’s any behavior that is intended to cause harm. These behaviors can include physical, mental or verbal behaviors Most experts agree that aggression is either hostile (anger-based) or instrumental (intended to achieve a goal).

4 Many people know that if they’re confronted by an aggressive dog, the best things to do is stand still (as running sparks the dog’s chase instinct.) Don’t mess with real or threatening aggression – GET YOUSELF OUT OF THE SITUATION!

5 Root Causes: Religious Fervor Political Extremism Mental Illness Criminal Intent Workplace Issues Domestic Concerns Traumatic Experiences Issues: Violence, Bullying, Discrimination, Verbal Abuse, Harassment, Militancy Terrorism

6 People who create these problems exhibit recognizable behavior, communication, and other patterns that reveal They are progressing along an observable aggression continuum – well before the crisis stage is reached.

7 COGNITIVE: Intent driven, calm, often missed random shooter or terrorist PRIMAL: Red faced, ready to explode

8 ACT IN CONTROL – Even if you feel anxious or scared when faced with the aggressive person, give him/her the impression that you are controlled yourself. ADOPT A CALM APPROACH – The Crisis Prevention Institute recommends approaching the aggressive person in a calm manner and speaking to him even if you don’t know him, introduce yourself. Ask them what you can do to help. maintain a non-judgmental attitude. Let them talk without interrupting and only speak when he has finished. Acknowledge how he is feeling.

9 Use Body Language – Body language can help to defuse aggressive behavior, says the National Association of Social Workers. Maintain eye contact. Let your gaze drop every now and then. Keep your face relaxed, but don’t smile at the situation. Use Open body language: don’t cross your arms or gesture as if you have a weapon. Stand a safe distance from her and be aware of the nearest possible exit, should you need to leave quickly.

10 Work Toward a Solution – Wait for the aggressive person to calm down. Explain the Consequences of the aggressive behavior respectfully. Suggest ways in which the situation may be resolved without conflict. Give the person more than one option, so For example, you might say, “Would you like to go for a walk with me for some fresh air? Or “Would you like me to contact a friend for you?”

11 If you see someone becoming angry or frustrated, leave the area Immediately. One of the best ways to diffuse anger is to simply back off and give the person some space.

12 1. Avoid trying to reason with the person if they appear hostile and upset. Wait until they have cooled down before you expect any rationale thinking to occur. 2. DO NOT confront them aggressively in return. This will likely increase their aggression. A calm passive response is best and will help to diffuse anger. 3. When speaking with an aggressive person, do not be argumentative. If necessary, agree with them, say you understand why they’re upset and even apologize for the way they’re feeling (“I’m so sorry you feel you’ve been treated unfairly”) This helps to calm the situation because it’s nearly impossible to continue arguing with someone that’s agreeing with you.

13 4. Use a low, soft tone of voice when speaking to someone aggressive. 5. Listen to the person. Many people use aggression as a coping mechanism, when what they really need to do is talk their feelings out. Just lending an ear may help them calm down. 6. Be aware of the signs that someone is about to be aggressive. According to the Center for Aggression Management. “Aggression behavior can be something as subtle as scattered and disjointed thinking by an individual who is normally methodical and pragmatic. This change in behavior should cause us to engage the person.” Often, by giving the person attention (saying something like “You seem frazzled, is is everything ok?) and allowing them to vent, you can diffuse the tension.

14 7. Aggressive behavior often starts with what the Center for Aggression Management calls “hardening” When an individual moves away from a win/win situation and begins to harden his position versus your issues, that individual is beginning on a path of aggression that ultimately could result in violence to you and those in your care. 8. If aggressive behavior turns threatening (the person has a weapon, has made threats against your physical safety or seems Imminently dangerous) call 911 for help. 9. If the situation escalates and you must defend yourself, the best Thing to do is run away, if you can’t get away and you are being Attacked, use these 15 tips to defend yourself.

15 There is a distinct difference between self-defense and fighting. self-defense is done purely out of necessity, to protect yourself and because there is no other choice. Fighting, on the other hand, is a mutual decision by two people to physically fight, when other avenues to remedy the situation existed, Whereas self-defense is legal, it is illegal to fight with someone physically for another purpose. These tips are to be used purely for defensive reasons only, However they are not your best option in an attack.

16 If you find yourself being attacked by a thief, throw the Object they are after (your purse, wallet, watch, etc.) This way they’re likely to leave you alone and go after the material goods. IF YOU CAN’T GET AWAY: 1. Yell for help. Many attackers will leave if you attract attention, so Yell “Fire,” “Call 911,” or “Help.” Knock over a trash can or do anything else you can to make some noise. 2. Don’t punch, as this can break your fingers. Instead use your fist like a hammer and come down on the attacker’s head or collarbone. Or, hit with your palm open, using the heel of your hand.

17 3. Use anything you can as a weapon. This could be your purse, pepper spray if you have it, an ashtray, keys (keep one in between your fingers when you strike), belt buckle, brief case, hairspray, book, or bottle. 4. Keep your hands in front of your face to protect it. 5. Kick with your shin, or with your foot flat, not with your toes. 6. Use your knee or foot (the botton of your flat foot) to kick the attacker in the groin. 7. Poke your thumbs into the attacker’s eyes.

18 8. Use your elbow to hit your attacker in the face, chin, or throat, which can damage his airway. 9. Strike at the most vulnerable body parts, which are the: Eyes, nose, knees, groin, ears, throat/neck (front or back) 10. Stomp down on the attacker’s foot with your heel. 11.Keep your mouth close with your teeth clenched to protect your jaw (as opposed to leaving your mouth open) 12. If you are small make yourself smaller by crouching. Avoid facing a larger opponent head – on, instead use your size to dodge punches and use your strongest body parts (your elbows, your legs, your knees) against the attacker’s weakest areas (face, groin, knees and throat).

19 13. Push your thumbs into the hollow of the attacker’s neck (below the Adam’s apple on men). 14. Use your head as a weapon. To do so, quickly bang your head against their chin or face (this works well if you’re grabbed from behind). 15. If necessary, use your teeth and bite your attacker (this could potentially transmit a disease to you, if the attacker has one, but it’s worth the risk if it saves your life).

20 DOCUMENTATION OF AGGRESSION What to document? Date, day, time, threat made, location, conditions, injuries or property damage. Collect any evidence. Interview all witnesses Avoid delay Be objective Organize chronologically Tell the truth

21 AGGRESSION AS A PROGRESSIVE CONTIUUM 1.TRIGGER PHASE – Stress and Anxiety 2.ESCALATION PHASE – Stress and Anxiety create changes 1.Behavior 2.Body Language 3.Interpersonal Communication 1.Primal Aggression Continuum – We feel endangered or threatened either physically or emotionally. An individual is losing control 2.Cognitive Aggression Continuum – Predator, Victimizer or a Terrorist Deliberate and conscious Usually manipulative in nature, to enable the aggressor to achieve and maintain an advantage over “victims” Well planned and always insiduious

22 THE STAGES OF AGGRESSION 1.HARDENING – The Aggressor becomes more distant, argumentative, lacking understanding and empathy 2.DEBATE – The Aggressor becomes fixated on his view, competitve and distrustful 3.COMMUNICATE WITH ACTIONS VS. WORDS – The Aggressor takes action without consulting others - the Aggressor appears detached and self absorbed. 4.IMAGE DESTRUCTION – TRIANGULATION – The Aggressor demonstrates deniable punishment behavior, issues become bipolar, he attacks the victim’s core identities 5.FORCED LOSS OF FACE – The Aggressor unmasks his victim as an enemy 6. THREAT STRATEGIES – The Aggressor presents the ultimatum – he aggressively responds to perceived threats, possibly, on the verge of panic 7.LIMITED DESTRUCTIVE BLOWS – The Aggressor make declarations and threats, which are followed by interrupted communication – complete detachment occurs 8.WIN/LOSE ATTACK – The Aggressor makes vicious attacks to the enemy’s vital areas 9.PLUNGING TOGETHER INTO THE ABYSS – The Aggressor takes self-destructive action in an attempt to destroy the enemy.

23 PACING THE AGGRESSOR - “Coming along side “ an aggressor, and then using the many persuasive Pacing the Aggressor skills to induce that individual to think your way – while he is buying into the notion that it was his own idea. AUTOCRATIC VS. DEMOCRATIC: DEMOCRATIC: If you are an Aggression Manager and your challenge is to persuade An aggressor away from an act of aggression, you do not have the luxury of allowing that aggressor to make up his own mind. He may chose an act of aggression. You must convince him that your suggestions are in his best interest. Identify those things that move him and push those buttons to motivate him in your direction. 1. The art of convincing someone to agree with you, because it is good for them 2. The strategies of Pacing the Aggressor with verbal and nonverbal techniques 3. The effective use of reading body language

24 To successfully deploy any strategy or tactic of persuasion in an aggressive situation, you Must build TRUST. It is the big umbrella under which you must perform your repertoire of persuasive skills and talents. First task – Build a bridge of trust with an individual with whom it would appear, at first glance you have nothing in common The more trust you develop, the less of a threat you are. Things we have in common: We seek connection with others. We’re saddened by loss and try to avoid it. We don’t like rejection. We like recognition and attention. We will do more to avoid pain than we will to seek pleasure. We dislike ridicule and embarrassment. We care what others think of us. We seek a degree of control over our lives. We need a degree of dignity. BE PREVENTATIVE -

25 BE NEUTRAL - MAINTAIN NEUTRALITY – NON-PLUS: Do not add to the emotionality of the situation LEAST POSSIBLE APPLAUSE – Like Training Dolphins

26 BE AN AGGRESSION MANAGER: Need Clarity – Write it down 5 Types of Questions: Open, Closed, Probing, Leading, Loaded, Silence Manage by asking the right KIND of question Tactics for managing aggression verbally: Reduced concession - whittle down to a smaller request Limited offer – Now or never Reciprocity – I believe your issue is important Creating Expectation – stick with me Contrast – good or bad outcome Continuity – Begin with what they believe Reducing Isolation

27 AGGRESSION MANAGEMENT TACTICS CONTINUED: Move from fear to solutions Appear to be a friend Expand on Perspective – Convince him he’s not an aggressor rather than convince him not to act aggressively Use words with power: Please, thank you, might and maybe Assumption of the obvious – “You probably already know” DO NOT SAY: “Come Here!” “You wouldn’t understand” “Because these are the rules” “It’s none of your business: “What do you want me to do about it?” “Would you calm down!” “What’s your problem?” You never

28 “You always” “I’m not going to say this again” “Why won’t you be reasonable” “Me” “My” “I” “Mine” Instead – Respect Acknowledgement of the aggressor’s feelings Validate DO SAY – “Let me understand” “Allow me to help” “Please tell me more” “Why” “What” “When” “Here’s What I Can Do”




32 Some materials taken from the book: “Before Conflict – Preventing Aggressive Behavior” By John D. Byrnes

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