Crisis Prevention – Do’s & Don’ts

Recently I had the privilege of hanging out with some veterans at a cigar lounge while I was traveling.  Men and women who have provided so much to protect our freedoms and way of life.  As I sat and talked to one of the men, we did what usually occurs when I talk to strangers and that is discussed our jobs.  I told him I teach a course on crisis prevention and intervention.  He was very interested as he works with veterans who sometimes struggle with various crisis.  He asked what the name of the program is and when I told him The Mandt System, an amused and quizzical look came over his face.  I said, ‘it appears you have heard about us.’  He went on to tell me a story of an incident that had occurred with his 12-year-old son and a staff member at his school.  His son has an ADHD diagnosis. 

He said the staff member had been trained in Mandt but when his wife researched what Mandt taught, the things this staff had done was not reflective of the program.  I let him vent a bit and told him my perspective as a fellow father of how frustrated I get when I hear how sometimes people get our training but do not use the tools as intended.  I do not feel I have the right to share the details of the story as I did not get his permission to do so but I can tell you that disciplinary actions were taken against the staff for not following what they were trained to do.  However, I will give some of the content of our conversations around the do’s and don’ts of dealing with individuals to prevent crisis.

Do’s                                                                  Don’ts

Keep yourself managed and be intentional    Be driven by emotions of anger and frustration

Give reasonable options                                  Make demands and threats

Make movements small and smooth              Make quick, jerky, or sudden movements

Lower volume and soften pitch                  Raise your voice and yell

Start by stepping back and giving space      Move closer and create threatening posturing

Avoid touching                                     Place your hands on a person without permission

Any kind of crisis prevention training program must start by having the staff member first look at themselves. One does not help de-escalate someone when they themselves are escalated.  The next thing one must do is avoid those things which are automatic escalators like moving too fast, talking too loudly, getting closer and doing unwanted and unwarranted touching.  It is amazing to me after all these years that person who comes across an unhappy animal they will give it space, lower their voice, slowly back up and dare not to touch it.  But if it’s an unhappy child they do the very opposite and when they get a negative outcome, they blame the child.  We can and should do better.

Tim Geels – Director of Implementation and Governance 

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