When two people get into a fight, it can be difficult to know what to do. There are several steps you can take to defuse the aggression; however, it is important to maintain your own security first.
Part 1 of 3: Assess the situation
Step 1. Keep your distance
You don't need to get into a fight if you don't have to. By keeping your distance you can preserve your personal safety. If you don't know what to do when witnessing a fight, back off or find a safe area. This measure may be the best course of action.
- Your own safety should be a priority.
- Use non-violent means before resorting to physical methods to stop a fight.
- Physical methods of stopping a fight are a last resort and are used when other options are exhausted or unavailable.
Step 2. Look for the underlying causes
A conflict can be due to hidden or unconscious beliefs and values. Being able to determine the true cause of a fight can help you resolve it. Try to think about the personality and cultural aspects that come into play before intervening.
- Understand the relationship between people who fight. Do these people know each other? Are they familiar? Is the problem due to a romantic interest?
- Examine possible motivations. Is it a random assault or is it due to a specific feeling of having been wronged? Differences in motivations can alter the way people involved in a fight will respond to someone trying to stop it. Random and unprovoked aggression is less sensitive to attempts at mediation, as the aggressor is likely to have a poor understanding of why he is acting aggressively.
- Ask questions of anyone who answers.
Step 3. Determine the facts
Fights can start as a result of a misunderstanding. By determining the truth of what is happening, you can have an advantage in trying to calm the parties involved. Make sure you know the truth about the situation before you intervene. It is better not to get involved than to make the situation worse.
- Take into account who, what, where, when and why. This can help you understand the whole situation and also provide useful information if the police intervene.
- Talk to the witnesses.
- Ask the people involved questions.
Step 4. Evaluate yourself
You want to make sure you are prepared to handle the conflict. Evaluate the state you are in. If you're drunk, exhausted, or dressed inappropriately for that activity, think twice before trying to stop the fight.
Step 5. Evaluate the people involved
Find out the position of each party involved. If they are drunk or armed, or are clearly professional fighters, this may not be a situation you should be involved in. Understand the people who take the altercation further before you decide to intervene.
Step 6. Find an authority
Look for a teacher, security guard, or police officer. To avoid putting yourself in danger, find someone trained to handle this kind of situation. Immediately seek someone in a position of authority to control the fight.
Part 2 of 3: Apply Nonviolent Methods
Step 1. Create a distraction
When things get hotter between two people, it is sometimes possible to calm them down with a distraction. Make a mention or question about their family members or friends they have come with. This can make them think of someone they care for, which will calm them down. There are many ways to ease tension.
- Give orders in an authoritative and calm voice. Many fights between children can be stopped in this way.
- Use humor.
- Sing a song out loud.
- Do not scream.
Step 2. Proclaim that you will call the police
If you proclaim out loud that you will call her and then make the phone call, this can quickly stop the fight. No one will want to be around when the police arrive. This is a quick fix. Be prepared: Charges may be brought against the individuals involved and you may be required to be nearby to speak to the officers.
Step 3. Empathize
This means putting yourself in the other person's position. Empathy uses the emotional nature of aggression to reason with people who may not be in the mood to accept logical reasoning. By giving yourself a chance to understand how the fighters feel and by helping them understand how their enemy feels, you are likely to gain a greater understanding of how to stop the fight. Invoking empathy can help mitigate aggression.
- Ask questions of the people involved in the fight to understand it from another point of view.
- Use language that shows you understand how people who fight feel.
- Use clear, emotional language to induce empathy.
Step 4. Talk
Often speaking in a calm voice to bullies can calm them down. Dialogue can cause people to discharge some of the emotions that led to the aggression, making it critical to resolving the conflict. It can also help reveal the source of the problem.
Use "first person" statements.
- "I feel that…".
- "I hear what you say …".
- Avoid “second person” statements that can be understood as accusations.
- Make questions.
- Try to be calm.
Step 5. Listen
Aggression can stem from frustration, and sometimes this frustration just needs a kind ear. Give each of the parties involved a chance to speak and help them feel like someone is really listening to how they feel. Sometimes people feel better when they can express what they feel.
- Use verbal signs to show that you are listening (for example, by saying “I get your point”).
- He nods.
- Make eye contact.
Step 6. Intercede
Encourage both parties to make a compromise. Work with them to make sure no one gets a bad deal. Don't impose a solution on the people involved. Remember to be unbiased, as that will help them feel comfortable.
- Actively listen.
- Make questions.
- Gradually help both parties to negotiate the dispute on their own.
Step 7. Facilitate reconciliation
Try to get the parties to acknowledge what they did to offend each other and forgive each other. This can ensure that future fights do not occur and can also help defuse a situation. By helping people reconcile, you allow them to forgive and forget the past.
Part 3 of 3: Use physical media
Step 1. Pour cold water
Sometimes a stream of cold water can calm irritability. Throw a mug or flask of water at people who are fighting or using the hose. This is a good way to avoid coming into direct contact with bullies.
Step 2. Stand between the combatants
By placing yourself between two people who are fighting, you can interrupt the fight. It is important to recognize that this can cause you to get hurt. This can be a successful solution, especially if you think that no one involved will harm you.
Step 3. Hold down an assailant
Be cautious when holding someone. Many ways to hold someone can cause physical harm. Trying to restrain a violent person can not only cause you to get hurt, but it can also seriously hurt the person you are holding. While keys and other forms of holding can be effective on an adult, they can cause injury or even death and are only recommended in extreme situations. It is not appropriate to restrain a child with keys (such as a strangulation).
- In some states, a firm hug is considered an acceptable way to stop fights between children when there is no proper training.
- Hugs can also be used for adult fights.
- The choke keys
- Leg or arm locks.
- Clamping keys.
Step 4. Use pepper spray
Pepper spray is commonly used by police to stop a fight, but if you are a civilian, consider using pepper spray only in the most extreme cases. Pepper spray can not only disable the bullies, but it will also prevent the fight from starting.
- Be cautious with pepper spray, as some people are allergic and it can cause serious health problems.
- Extreme caution must be exercised with pepper spray, as carrying one may be illegal and spraying someone in the face may be a crime.
- Don't side with one of the parties.
- Don't get involved unless absolutely necessary.
- Don't lose your cool.
- If the fight occurs at school, call security or a teacher immediately.
- Call the authorities immediately or emergency medical services.