We are living in tumultuous times. Security personnel working on the frontlines are often encountering an increasingly antagonistic environment. The only tools that can help them mitigate confrontational scenarios in sometimes volatile circumstances, are not physical, but temperamental and psychological.
The following are just a few ways in which security guards can try to keep a situation from escalating or prevent violent confrontations from occurring.
Behavior and body language are key:
Security guards should try to approach a situation without initial judgement or any preconceived notions about the people they are dealing with. The people aren’t necessarily criminals or acting in bad faith, they may be desperate, scared, or experiencing some distress that is causing them to act out in a way that may seem like it would lead to violence. Hence, it is important for security guards to project empathy through their voice, words, behavior, and body language. That means crossed arms, clenched fists, and overall defensive posturing should be avoided.
Mindful that common commands may backfire intense situations
Yelling standard security instructions “Stop” or “Get back” or “Put your hands where I can see them”, among others, is not always a useful tactic of de-escalation. In some cases, it can make situations more dangerous by inciting aggravation or frustration. Being aggressive, either physically or vocally, will incite one to become defensive and feel they are being attacked. Instead, guards should try to communicate in an understanding tone. More importantly, is the need to remain calm and listen more. Security guards should be good at listening to the concerns of the people they are dealing with, only then will they come up with an informed way to move forward in diffusing a situation.
Properly assessing situations
It is important that security personnel are mindful and take into account the full scope of the situation correctly, and not jump to conclusions. This helps to make a more logical judgement call about how to act, not react, and ensure that the situation doesn’t escalate and become violent. Security guards can do that by listening and then reiterating what has been conveyed, to make clear they are being heard. For instance, a simple tactic can be used by stating “Just to make sure I understand what you are telling me” and then repeating what has been said. It is a calming method of letting the individual know they are being listened to and confirming that the situation has been understood accurately.
Beyond situational awareness
Security guards are trained to check out their surroundings as soon as they enter a scene, hence, they should take note of the exits, how many people are in and around the scene, and what is the degree of risk involved, etc. However, what often is not taught to security personnel is how they should check themselves and their own emotional state before entering into a potentially confrontational situation. Their mental and emotional stability is the most crucial tool that will help “arm” them to navigate any given scenario. Hence, where a situation is needed to be de-escalated, it is imperative that the security personnel dealing with various scenarios are prepared, physically, mentally, and emotionally to tackle the situation with a calm mind.
In many cases, altercations escalate due to miscommunication. An empathetic response would go a long way in helping security guards to mitigate potentially dangerous or violent scenarios, and keeping them from escalating any further. Listening carefully, gauging surroundings, and adopting an empathetic and compassionate manner of communication and demeanor are some of the ways that can help security personnel avoid potentially violent situations. Given the proper communication tools, instruction and guidance is ultimately the best defense one can provide their team with which to arm themselves.