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November 28, 2022

Using Active Listening, Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication Skills to Diffuse Conflict

One of the most important skills for security guards is the ability to de-escalate conflict.


One of the most important skills for security guards is the ability to de-escalate conflict. After all, you never know when a confrontation might arise, and it's always best to be prepared. While there are many different techniques you can use to de-escalate a situation, the most effective ones are active listening, non-verbal and verbal communication.

What is Active Listening

Active listening is a communication technique that involves fully concentrating on what the other person is saying, both verbally and non-verbally. This means that you should not only be listening to the words they are saying, but also taking note of their tone of voice, body language, and any other non-verbal cues. By doing this, you will be able to better understand how the other person is feeling and respond accordingly.

The Steps of Active Listening

There are four steps to active listening:

  1. Pay attention – This seems like a no-brainer, but it's important to make sure that you are really focusing on what the other person is saying. That means putting away any distractions and giving them your undivided attention.
  2. Show that you're listening – Let the other person know that you're paying attention by making eye contact, nodding your head, and providing verbal cues such as "uh-huh" or "I see."
  3. Provide feedback – After the other person has finished speaking, repeat back what they said in your own words to ensure that you understand them correctly. This also shows them that you were really listening and that you care about what they have to say.
  4. Respond appropriately – Once you have a good understanding of how the other person is feeling, you can respond in a way that will help diffuse the situation. This might involve asking questions, offering consolation, or simply lending a sympathetic ear.

Active listening is an essential skill for security guards because it can help diffuses situations before they escalate into something more dangerous. The next time you find yourself in a potential conflict, remember these tips and give active listening a try.

Next, we provide some tips on how to de-escalate conflict using non-verbal communication skills.

De-Escalating Conflict with Non-verbal Communication

As a security guard, you are likely to find yourself in situations where you need to diffuse tense situations. In these cases, it is important to be able to read and respond to the nonverbal cues of the people involved.

There are several things you can do with your body language to show that you are calm and in control. First, make sure you have an open stance. This means that your arms are at your sides and your feet are shoulder-width apart. You should also make sure that you maintain eye contact without staring down the other person. Lastly, try to keep your hands visible at all times.


You should also be aware of the nonverbal cues that the other person is giving off. If they are invading your personal space, it may be an indication that they are feeling threatened and are looking for a way out. If they are pointing their finger or clenched fists, they may be preparing for a physical confrontation. Pay attention to these cues so that you can de-escalate the situation before it gets out of hand.

Here are some additional tips to diffusing a situation

  • Remain calm and avoid getting defensive or angry
  • Speak slowly and avoid using raised voices
  • Make sure your body language is open and relaxed
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Listen attentively and avoid interrupting
  • Avoid making assumptions or judgments
  • Validate the other person’s feelings
  • Offer alternatives and options
  • Apologize if appropriate
  • Thank the individual for their cooperation

If the situation continues to escalate despite your efforts, it may be necessary to call for backup or remove yourself from the situation entirely. Remember, your safety is always the top priority.

Conflict De-escalation with Verbal Communication

Next, Let's take a look at some tips for using communication skills to de-escalate conflict.

  1. Acknowledge the other person's feelings.

When you're trying to de-escalate a conflict, it's important to first acknowledge the other person's feelings. This doesn't mean that you necessarily agree with what they're feeling, but it does show that you understand and empathize with their perspective. For example, you might say something like, "I can see that you're feeling frustrated, and I'm sorry that we haven't been able to resolve this issue yet."

  1. Avoid making assumptions about what the other person is thinking or feeling.

It's easy to fall into the trap of making assumptions about what somebody else is thinking or feeling, but doing so can often exacerbate the situation. Instead of assuming that you know what's going on in somebody else's head, try to get them to open up about what they're thinking and feeling. You might say something like, "It sounds like there's more to this than meets the eye. Would you like to talk about what's going on?"

  1. Be careful not to invalidate the other person's feelings.

Even if you don't agree with how somebody is feeling, it's important to avoid invalidating their emotions. Invalidating somebody else's feelings will only make them feel misunderstood and unsupported, which will likely make the situation worse. Instead, try to validate their feelings by saying something like, "I can understand why you would feel that way."

  1. Use "I" statements instead of "you" statements.

"You" statements are likely to come across as confrontational (e.g., "You're being irrational."). On the other hand, "I" statements are more likely to be seen as supportive (e.g., "I'm here for you."). When you're trying to de-escalate a conflict, it's important to use language that conveys your supportiveness and willingness to work together towards a resolution.

  1. Try not to take things personally.

It can be easy to take things personally when somebody else is upset, but it's important not too if you want to diffuse the situation. Getting defensive will only make matters worse, so it's important to try and see things from the other person's perspective and keep your cool.

Active listening, verbal and non-verbal communication skills are key when it comes to de-escalating conflict in any situation. By following these tips, you'll be better equipped to handle stressful situations in a calm and collected manner. Remember, diffusing a tense situation can mean the difference between a peaceful resolution and a dangerous or violent outcome. In security work, as in life, it pays to stay calm under pressure. Thanks for reading and we hope these tips we help keep you safe.

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