Education Recap: De-escalation Workshop

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

On Thursday, April 15, the American Booksellers Association offered a workshop from the Center for Anti-Violence Education (CAE) on de-escalation techniques.

Booksellers can also check out the handout for the De-Escalation Workshop as well as the video recording of the session (use the password CAE2021!).

Here are some key points from the session:

  • The objective of de-escalation is to reduce the level of anxiety and agitation in any given situation, keeping in mind that reasoning with an enraged person is not possible.
  • Before using de-escalation strategies, consider what CAE calls “B.A.P.P.”:

    • Breathe
    • (Be) aware of your triggers
    • Position yourself for safety — find exits, be aware of your surroundings, keep your hands available, and convey positive body language
    • Project a calm demeanor
  • To remember de-escalation strategies, use CAE’s acronym G.A.M.B.L.I.N.:

    • Get to “we” to foster a sense of community
    • Offer alternatives, so the aggressor does not feel forced into any decisions
    • Match and lead to step it down — bring attention to tone and volume
    • Broken record — repeat boundaries and expectations
    • Lose to win — pick your battle
    • Use “I” statements
    • Name the behavior to draw attention to it
  • In escalating situations, try not to make sudden movements, and do not approach the aggressor from behind or get in their face.
  • If one of the above techniques doesn’t work, try another or a combination of strategies.
  • When de-escalating a situation, don’t:

    • Threaten
    • Argue
    • Challenge
    • Order
    • Shame
  • Keep other communication tips in mind, such as: express gratitude/appreciation; use “and” instead of “but”; ask open ended questions; reflect or rephrase what you’ve heard; redirect the conversation; use humor (not sarcasm); and actively wait (keep your eye on them, but don’t directly engage).

This session also addressed how to effectively deal with customers who aren't respecting store policies, like not wearing a mask or letting their mask slip below their nose, customers using offensive language, and more. Watch the recording for full details.