Imagination at Work

I believe that one of the most important pieces to crisis center intervention is being a good salesperson. Why? During crisis intervention, we have to be salespeople because we’re trying to convince another person to see things the way we do. We want them to “buy in” to our ideas of de-escalation, etc. The person in crisis is likely saying something like, “Look Brendan, I’m upset! I’m pissed off! I want to punch somebody! I am going to go off!” It’s our job to convince them that what they want to do is not a good idea. It’s not the best solution for the situation. We have to convince them that their way of handling the situation will most likely result in creating more problems. At this point we have to sell them on these points. Learn more about these nonviolent crisis intervention techniques.

So, how do we convince somebody to see things in a different way?

First, as in all manner of sales, you must believe in the product and you have to believe it’s worth selling. Next, you have to convey that message in a way that makes sense and is believable. It has to be conveyed so that the other person can feel that you want them to change their behavior or follow directions, and that feeling is coming from a positive place. The way this feeling is communicated is crucial. If you can’t make it believable, then you aren’t going to sell the concept. For example, saying something like, “Hey John, I know you’re upset. I am hearing you right now, and I completely understand how you are feeling. I want to help you, I really want to help. Can you just take one deep breath. That’s all I’m asking you to do. Breathe in. Two seconds in—and now breathe out. Nice and slow. Breathe in, and out. Just once. Go ahead, just try.” If you say this with true sincerity in your voice, and you are believable, you will likely sell them on your request.

The next time you find yourself managing a crisis, think of your position, consider the situation, and think of it in terms of selling the person in crisis on your “product” of de-escalation. Use your imagination. Convince them why doing what you’re asking them to do is the right thing for everyone. These are all important lessons you will learn in our cpi class.