There is nothing new in the idea of trying to calm people down so that you won’t have to use force and everyone can go home safely. To help you, here are some suggested ways to communicate in a crisis situation.
- Be authentic. A person in crisis will inevitably escalate. Then he or she may attempt to reach out for a real human connection. If this happens, you have options for trying to de-escalate the situation. By responding to the person as a friend trying to be helpful, you might be able to resolve the immediate event.
- Respond rather than react. Reacting is saying the first thing that comes to mind. Responding is waiting a second, letting that first impulse pass, and then speaking appropriately. Everything that comes out of your mouth should serve the singular purpose of calming the person down.
- Figure out what’s going on. You should be curious about what is going on from the other person’s perspective. Immerse yourself, even if it’s only for a few minutes, and become familiar with how he or she sees the situation. Take the time to ask questions to determine what the problem is instead of making statements or commenting.
- Establish control. It’s important to remember that some adults need limits. Many times a person who feels out of control will respond favorably to the person who says “No.” It helps him or her feel protected. Establishing a limit is an approach based on the goal of calming the other person down.
- Offer hope. Why should you help the agitated person who reaches out for life support? Because you really believe that by getting the needed help, he or she will be in a much better place in life. Remember that recovery is possible for people with schizophrenia, substance abuse, depression, and all the other major mental illnesses.