Recognizing Someone’s Escalating Behavior:
Tips and Techniques to Use to Help Stop an Out of Control Person
We can recognize someone’s escalating behaviour and try to stop it:
Two stages can be identified:
1. The individual becomes anxious.
We can recognize anxiety in an individual by noticing a change in their typical behaviour, (pacing, staring, finger drumming, fidgety, fast talking etc.)
Staff should:Be supportive, use empathy and be non-judgmental. Talkto the person to try to figure out what is bothering them.
2. The individual becomes defensive.
They can show defensiveness by being argumentative and challenging.Staff should:Set limits and/or give choices and consequences.
When we notice an individual is anxious or argumentative, it is important to keep in mind Non Verbal Behaviours.
1. Personal Space:
Usually 1 to 1.5 feet surrounding us. People see this space as an extension of themselves. Some factors involved are:
i. Relationship to the person
ii. Their culture
iii. A person’s hygiene
iv. Their body language
v. Their emotional state
vi. Their gender
vii. Personal history
– It is important to understand that almost anything can be a factor in determining Personal Space.
– Not allowing a person to have their Personal Space can elevate their levels of anxiety, and escalate the situation.
2. Body Language:
– The non-verbal aspects of communication transmitted through body posture and motion.
– You can read someone’s body language be watching their eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, posture, and movements.
Another aspect of communication is Paraverbal Communication.
– This is the vocal part of speech, other than the actual words, (how we say, what we say). Some elements involved:
Tone of voice
Volume (loud or soft)
Rate and rhythm of speech
*55-80% of what people are trying to communicate is through Non Verbal communication*
When we are talking to an individual, we want to keep in mind the way we (as staff) are standing. We should be at a relaxed posture, with our hands to our sides and palms open, off to one side at about a 45-degree angle, paying close attention to personal space. If the person is much shorter than yourself or in a wheel chair you may want to lower yourself to their level.
When a person is being defensive (being argumentative and challenging), it is a god idea to allow this person to vent. Try to remove them from the group or move the group away from the person who is being defensive. This will allow the person to “blow off steam”.
If at this point, staff need to set limits, because the person is being argumentative and challenging (defensive), this person may start to ask questions. There are two types of questions that may be asked.
1. Information seeking question. Staff should answer this question if they are able to.
2.Challenging question. Staff should ignore this question and re-direct the individual back to the topic and hand, or set limits.
Keys to setting limits:
They should be
-Immediate (if possible)
Verbal intervention tips and techniques:
-Pay attention to what is being said
-Assertive (without being bossy)
Staff should not:
Trying to figure out what someone is trying to communicate.
-Give undivided attention
-Use paraphrasing/ restatement to clarify conversation
-Use silence for refection
-Listen for feelings and intent, not just facts and content
Precipitating Factors are internal or external causes of acting out behaviour.
-Need to maintain self-esteem
It’s important to understand that almost anything can be a Precipitating Factor for someone.
Our ability as staff to maintain professionalism and not take the acting out behaviour personally.
The idea or concept that staff attitude and behaviour will affect client (camper) attitude and behaviour and vice versa.
This is more of an outline of a presentation from my camp’s training session. We are able to get a lot more out of it by talking about it as a group and using examples.