4 out of 4 stars
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De-Escalate by Douglas E. Noll is a non-fiction book that provides tools to quickly calm people down. Mr. Noll is an attorney, mediator, and peacemaker. He is also a co-founder of the Prisons for Peace program. Mr. Noll and his partner, Laurel Kaufer, brought mediation techniques and tools to maximum security prisoners. They wanted to prove that anyone, including prison inmates, could become a peacemaker.
The Prisons for Peace program was extremely successful. Many prisoners that participated in the program went on to become peace-making leaders within their prison community. Some also made positive changes in their personal lives, outside of the prison, including reclaiming lost relationships and becoming very productive citizens once released from prison.
Mr. Noll came to the realization that the work he and Ms. Kaufer were doing with prisoners could benefit anyone who might be in a situation where it would be beneficial to calm someone down. Since all people have times like that in their lives, he chose to write a book about his work. In his book, Mr. Noll provides basic steps, clear instructions, examples, and exercises to help the reader understand and implement the ideas that he has learned, created, practiced, and polished during his years as an attorney, mediator, and peacemaker.
The process to de-escalate a highly emotional situation within 90 seconds was stated clearly. It has three important steps. The first is to ignore the words being spoken. The second is to guess at the emotions. The third step is to reflect the emotions. It is that simple. The science behind these steps was explained in easy to understand language. How and why these steps work was also explained. The book was then divided into several sections that are appropriate for many different stages that occur in lives of most people. These sections contained many scenarios that included how to deal with very young children, teens, spouses, grieving friends, co-workers, and bosses.
I liked that this book was relatively short and very concise. The language was very clear and easy to understand. The information was well organized and it was easy to follow the example conversations. I was able to start putting what I learned to use right away. It worked very well when we took our youngest daughter ice skating for the second time in her life. She became very frustrated when she couldn’t get the hang of how to skate immediately. During a break, I began talking to my daughter in the way the book suggests and within 90 seconds she relaxed. When we went back out on the ice, she went with a lighter heart and immediately began to improve her understanding of how to skate. It was a mini parenting miracle!
I also really appreciated the advice to try this technique gently with spouses and teenagers. This has worked particularly well with my teenage daughter. I try a little bit and then back off. It seems to be helping a little bit at a time without arousing her teenage suspicions!
I was challenged by the author’s direction to use “you” statements instead of “I” statements, like saying, “You are angry.” instead of, “I think that you are angry.” When we are trying to de-escalate someone, it is all about them. I felt that it might be helpful for Mr. Noll to make the point that “I” statements are still very important in many situations, just not when trying to calm someone down.
I also would have appreciated some additional information on problem-solving once the situation has been de-escalated. This information could be in an appendix, in another book, or perhaps other helpful books could be referenced. Obviously, calming the situation down is of utmost importance and the main focus of this book. It would be beneficial to know more about what to do next to help resolve/mitigate the situation.
There were only a few typos and grammar errors in the edition that I reviewed. I believe this book was professionally edited. Unfortunately, there were some serious formatting issues with the eBook copy I had. Because the version I had was clearly marked as a copy for reviewing purposes only, I did not decrease the rating because of this issue. I only want to make a note here to ensure that it is corrected in the final version of the eBook.
This was one of the most helpful books I’ve read in a long while. It is a very timely book. Our world can always use more people who are able to bring stressful situations down and then behave in a positive and rational way to help resolve the situation. This is a book that anyone can use to make immediate and long-term positive changes in their life. I rate De-Escalate by Douglas E. Noll 4 out of 4 stars. I am looking forward to continuing to apply the knowledge and tools from this book in my own life. I am so glad that I chose to read this book and I recommend it to anyone and everyone.
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