Five Ways to De-Escalate a Conflict

The time will come when a problem with someone will need to be addressed and you do not want to wait too long to acknowledge that a problem exists--the earlier a problem is confronted, the easier it is to solve. This resource can be used by all staff. This article offers five ideas to keep in mind when confronting problems with others and co-workers.

The following is an excerpt from...
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by Johnnie Cain, Lead Management Consultant

The time will come when a problem with someone will need to be addressed. Don't wait too long to acknowledge that a problem exists--the earlier a problem is confronted, the easier it is to solve. Choose a time and a place to meet with the other person, and keep the following ideas in mind when meeting:

  1. Keep your focus on what can be done in the future. REMEMBER: What's done is done.
  2. Each person should take turns speaking. Listen carefully to the facts, and to the other person's feelings.
  3. Resist the urge to bring more issues into the discussion, REMEMBER: You can take up another issue later.
  4. Personal attacks and blame will only distract from solving the problem, REMEMBER: The problem is your enemy--not each other.
  5. Be prepared to describe your feelings only and your impression of the facts of the situation. Don't speak for or about others.

Region X TASC, Early Childhood Education Training Center, Portland State University, PO Box 1491, Portland, OR 97207. (503) 725-4815

"Five Ways to De-Escalate a Conflict." Cain, Johnnie. Conflict Management. Head Start Bulletin No. 61. HHS/ACF/ACYF/HSB. 1997. English.

Last Reviewed: October 2012

Last Updated: August 13, 2015