How to Diffuse a Hostile Situation

Updated on February 18, 2018
Dylan Buckley profile image

Dylan is a freelance writer specializing in the self-development industry. HubPages is where he posts content he doesn't otherwise write.

Yesterday, I was walking down the street when some homeless man starting locking eyes with me. I tried to look away but he was intent on starting an issue. He began yelling at me and asked me if I wanted to fight. I just put my hands up to show him that I didn't want a problem. He mocked me a little and then went about with his day. While I managed to walk away before things could escalate, there's always the possibility that things could get ugly and I had no idea what to do. If you've found yourself in a dangerous situation before or if you want to know what you should do in the future, here is how you can diffuse a hostile situation.

1. Attempt to Walk Away

If it's possible, the first thing that you should try to do is walk away from the situation. Looking at the person or stepping closer could give them the impression that you want to fight. This is definitely something that you want to avoid. If you find someone walking towards you and being confrontational, attempt to avoid eye contact and walk away. If they follow you, here is what you need to do next.

2. Be Passive Yet Assertive

You don't handle anger with more anger. This will just escalate the situation. Instead, be as passive yet as assertive as possible. Tell the person that there is no reason to start a fight and let them know that you are not a threat to them. Hopefully, they will see this and walk away from you. If they are talking to you, you should also try to agree with them or apologize for whatever they think you were doing. They may not attack you if they feel as though they are right for starting the confrontation. Once you feel that you have managed to calm them down, walk away and continue with their day.

3. Create Distance Between Yourself and the Other Individual

Distance is a necessity if you do not want to have a fight. When you create distance between yourself and the other person, you reduce the likelihood of a fight and you also give yourself a chance to get away or prepare yourself if the other person tries to fight you. You may not be able to do this if you are in a closed area so create as much distance as possible in situations like these.

4. Check Your Body Language

The wrong body language can add fuel to the fire. For example, let's imagine that you are puffing yourself up and making yourself appear stronger and larger. This type of body language asserts your dominance and makes it seem as though you are challenging them. Instead, shrink down and avoid facing the person. If they feel that they are bigger and stronger and you are inferior, they may decide that you are not worth their time.

5. Defend Yourself if Necessary

Not every situation is capable of being diffused. Fights happen and there is no stopping it once it starts. If you have to, defend yourself. Make sure that this is the last resort, however, or you can end up in a lot of trouble with law enforcement. Also, try to use only your hands, avoid lethal weapons, and only use defensive weapons if they are legal in your state and city. More of this information can be found online for those who are worried that they may find themselves in a conflict.

Conflict happens and we can find ourselves in the middle of it. This short guide will help you should you ever find yourself in one of these situations. Did I miss anything or have you ever been in a hostile situation before? What did you do? Let me know in the comment situation below!

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