There is a program available called Verbal Judo. (try our cpi training online or our crisis intervention certificate) It’s a communications course that’s rated highly—At one point it was rated the number one program of its kind in the country. Anyway, if you haven’t heard of it before, it’s worth looking into. It’s a really neat program, with a lot of cool techniques you can use in crisis intervention situations and in dealing with aggressive people.

One of the statements the author of the program makes is that when you’re feeling like all is lost, and it’s reached the point where you’re trying to avoid a hands-on situation, and you’re running out of options, you can say to the other person something like, “Okay. Okay, I understand. Is there anything I can say or do at this point that’s going to earn your cooperation? Anything? Just tell me.” By saying something like that to the individual, it puts it back on them to realize that you are at least giving them one last chance to come up with a solution.

They have already expressed that they don’t want to do it, they don’t want to comply, and they don’t want to follow the directions. So, now you are pleading with them, asking “is there anything I can say at this point that is going to help you to change your mind?” “Anything that’s going to gain some cooperation?” “Anything that is going to keep you from doing something that you and I both know you’re going to later regret.”

You are reaching out to that person and basically saying, -Hey, I’m here and, if you give me a valid response, I’m willing to try to do whatever it is you think might work.

For me, it’s a great way to attempt to end the scenario before making the decision to take it to the next level. You’re presenting it to the person as an option, a choice, because in reality, it’s always up to the other individual about whether to de-escalate or escalate. All you can do is try and influence their behavior to make a positive choice.

Try a little verbal judo. It works.