Principles for Effective Verbal Intervention

Remain Calm

Remember, the verbally escalating person is beginning to loose control.  If the person you are intervening with senses you are losing control, the situation will escalate.  Try to keep your cool, even when challenged, insulted, or threatened.

Remove the Audience

Onlookers, especially those who are the peers of the verbally escalating person, tend to fuel the fire.  They often become cheerleaders, encouraging the individual.  Isolate the person your are verbally intervening with.  You will be more effective one-on-one.

Keep it Simple

Be clear and direct in your message.  Avoid jargon and complex options.

Watch Your Body Language

Be aware of your space, posture, and gestures.  Make sure your nonverbal behavior is consistent with your verbal message.

Use Silence

Ironically, silence is one of the most effective verbal intervention techniques.  Silence on your par allows the individual to clarify and restate.  This often leads to a clearer understanding of the true source of the individual's conflict.

Use Reflective Questioning

Paraphrase and restate comments.  By repeating or reflecting the person's statement in the form of a question, you'll help the individual gain valuable insight.

Watch Your Paraverbals

Any two identical statements can have completely opposite meanings, depending on how the tone. volume, and cadence of your voice is altered.  Make sure the words you use are consistent with voice inflection to avoid a double message.

The above material was provided and copyrighted 1995 by the National Crisis Prevention Institute

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