Take The Time, Do It Right.
Sometimes, whether you want to or not, you have to take a step back. That can mean getting some sleep, taking some time off of work (use that hard-earned vacation time!), or pausing for a few seconds when you’re dealing with someone.
That pause may only last a few seconds, but it can be enough to de-escalate a tough situation. A disagreement with a loved one or coworker may end better if you take the time to slow things down. A security encounter can end better, too.
I have been saying for years, and have stressed in my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot and the April 27th blog post, that it is incredibly important for security and law enforcement professionals to know how to slow things down in ways that can help de-escalate a situation. I am passionate about this!
If you are a security guard, I understand that there can be times when you pause to decide how to handle a situation, and your decision gets negative feedback. During the COVID-19 era this can be especially difficult. You may also handle a situation fairly well, such as someone’s removal from a public place, and get hurt. The bottom line is you do a sometimes dangerous but incredibly valuable job. But I am convinced that the more you add de-escalation to your security training, the more likely you are to regularly make it home at the end of your shift.
In California, Assembly Bill 229 would add more de-escalation and other training for security guards there. A recent newspaper editorial supported the bill following a deadly encounter between an individual and private security, stating that “state laws require as little as 32 hours of training to get a license to be a security guard and eight hours a year afterward, and don’t require training on safely restraining people. That is unacceptable.” Some states require even less.
Start practicing de-escalation in all areas of your life. Do you often feel road rage or regularly drive aggressively? Do you have a short temper, or little patience when dealing with others? Try paying attention the next time you feel yourself flying into one of these states. Take a few long breaths. Ask yourself why the situation bothers you so much, and how much of it is in your control. What can you safely and responsibly do about the parts you can control?
Many security and law enforcement professionals face these challenges simply because they feel exhausted and overwhelmed. I really get it. You’re probably going to have to face this stuff at some point. Do it on the front end in terms of rest and training before you burn out, or you make a decision that costs you your career or your life. As the old song says, “Take the time, do it right.”