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Dealing with Emotional Escalations

Dealing with Emotional Escalations

An escalation is defined as an action which negatively drives the baseline of an interaction or an environment. This action can be minute in execution, or it can be obvious. Emotional Escalations are when a subject stimulates their emotional baseline to commit a certain action. These actions tend to be ones of violence to maintain their perceived amount of power and control. These escalations tend to be slow burning as in they are more evident over time depending on the situation and the stress of the individual/subject. For example, due to the motives of invalidation, narcissistic injury, and loss of autonomy, an individual/subject may engage with the officer/agent/operative with active resistance [physical violence]. This can be in direct response to the fight/flight/freeze responses. So how do we prevent emotional escalations. Listening. Emotional Validation. Co-Regulation. Empathy and Boundaries.


Listening is defined as the processing of auditory information while developing an articulate and appropriate response to move the interaction forward in a safe and positive manner. Listening is not only hearing what an individual is stating, but also comprehending and reflecting on the verbiage [what was said], the diction [word choice], tone [what emotions], rate [the speed], and message [the meaning/summation]. It is after processing all of this the officer/agent/operative is able to respond with a skill/countermeasure/action that contains and de-escalates the situation. Without listening de-escalation is not possible and force volunteer itself as the only means for controlling the situation. Listening requires empathy, and patience, which we will talk about at a later time.

Emotional Validation

Validation is defined as positively accepting a subject’s point of view. It does not accept the behavior if it is in anyway inappropriate. Inappropriate being defined as dangerous to themselves, the officer/agent/operative/, or the environment. Emotional validation is defined as positively recognizing and accepting a subject’s emotional experience and/or point of view. By listening to the tone of the subject, the word choice, and understanding the meaning of the message the officer/agent/operative is able to validate the emotions as well as validate what the emotion represents in the situation/interaction. For example, a subject expresses the emotion of anger due to not being heard and blaming behaviors from the officer/agent/operative or another party. This anger causes them to raise their voice and begin using vulgar language and intimidations. Rather than be manipulated by their emotional escalation one can understand the subject’s anger is out of being accused and blamed whether they did the act or not, the anger also stems from not being heard, or seen. Through emotional validation which would sound like, “I understand you are angry right now. I would be angry too if I was being blamed for something I don’t think I did. It’s okay to be angry, but it is not okay to make threats and try to intimate/scare me, the officer/agent/operative, or the public because of your anger. It’s okay to be angry. I’d like to think we can talk. I’m here to listen.” This also allows the subject to maintain their perceived autonomy and sets an appropriate foundation for de-escalation to take place and be successful.


Emotional Regulation being defined as the ability to control and maintain one’s own emotional baseline. Co-regulation is defined an outside/external force aiding in returning an emotionally compromised individual to their emotional/psychological baseline. This is done through listening, observing, asking and emotional labeling, empathizing, attaching meaning to the emotion, and labeling the function of the behavior, while still setting appropriate boundaries/rules/regulations as it pertains to the situation. By observing the emotional indications and the function of behavior the officer/agent/operative is able to emotionally label and ask questions to gain more information about the subject’s perception of the situation/experience. The officer/agent/operative are then able to lend empathy and attach meaning to the subject’s emotional experience and then remind them and/or set/re-establish boundaries to recover the rapport.


Empathy is defined as the ability to understand/comprehend another human being’s point-of-view has meaning and is important to that individual just as the officer/agent/operative’s situations/experiences are important to them. Empathy does not require having been through the situation, it is understanding, naming, and applying the meaning of an emotional experience and validating that experience in the moment.


Reminding the subject of the boundaries/rules are a beneficial way of being reality into the situation and reminding the subject of possible consequences which are directly correlated to how they decide to engage the interaction and offering the path of least resistance through verbal countermeasures/de-escalation. This is directly dependent upon the environment’s threat level.

Be kind, Stay Deadly

Eclipse Protection Inc.

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