The problem with “Conflict De-escalation”

It was one of the hardest de-escalation situations I’ve ever been in.

The man was 55ish with a long ZZ Top beard.

He had the lean body of someone who had spent the last 25 years in prison lifting weights. 

Because he had.

He had only been on the “outside” for a week and he couldn’t handle it.

He wanted to go back to prison where he “knew what to expect.” (Side note: It totally reminded me of “Brooks” in the movie, Shawshank Redemption).

He told me that hurting me would be the easiest way to go back.

I don’t remember what I did to de-escalate the situation, but it must have worked because he didn’t hurt me.

I’m not bragging.

I shouldn’t have even been in that situation.

I should have already prevented the conflict before it needed to be de-escalated.

Conflict Prevention

De-escalating conflict is good.

Preventing conflict is even better!

Research shows you can prevent conflict through “Sentiment Override.”

Don’t worry. It isn’t as complicated as it sounds.

“Sentiment override” is the idea that a person interprets your current actions through the lens of how you have treated them in the past. There are two types:


If you have treated the person well in the past, they will usually “give you the benefit of the doubt.”


If you have treated the person poorly in the past, they will “assume the worst” from you.

In order to prevent conflict, you simply have a lot of positive interactions with the person BEFORE conflict arises.

I have turned this into a game that I’ll explain next week.

Have a great day!



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