De-Escalate Angry, Upset People

Whether its a child or an inmate serving a life sentence, my skills have helped calm volatile, difficult people in literally seconds. 

The Secret: Listen to the Emotions, Not the Words

Recent discoveries in brain science have revealed the underlying processes of how we regulate our emotions. Armed with these secrets,  you can calm anyone down in seconds without losing your composure.

Easy to Learn

Learning how to listen and reflect emotions is easy to learn. Most people develop mastery in 4-6 weeks.

Acid-Tested Skills

I have tested these skills in my award-winning Prison of Peace Project. Thousands of inmates have de-escalated violence in their prisons.


As you learn and practice these skills, your life transforms. You become self-aware, non-anxious, and compassionate towards angry, upset people. 

How the De-Escalation Skills Work

Our brains have a variety of neural networks that respond to memories, sensations, and stimuli. At a basic level, we experience pleasantness or unpleasantness. The physiological changes are called affect.

All humans are born with affect. However, humans are not born with emotions. Emotions are created by our brains beginning at about 18 months. At that age, the emotional centers of the brain begin to mature and function. We learn to categorize various affect into concepts associated with words. These are called emotions.

The job of the toddler to pre-school brain is to build a database of emotions in a process known as emotional categorization. Unfortunately, due to cultural biases against emotional competency, the process of emotional categorization is stunted. Children learn some rudimentary emotions, but do not become skilled.

  • Ignore the Words
  • Pay Attention to the Emotions
  • Reflect Back the Emotions with a Simple "You" Statement

As a result, when a child or an adult becomes angry, the prefrontal cortex in charge of the emotional database shuts down. Since the brain can no longer make sense of what's going on, the affective state accelerates and activates. In toddlers, this is called a melt-down. In adults, it is called an angry outburst. In either case, the brain cannot process affect into emotion, which causes people to be reactive and aggressive.

Research by neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman shows that when emotions are labeled, the prefrontal cortex comes back on line and the amygdalae calm down. In effect, affect labeling acts like the listener is lending his or her prefrontal cortex to the angry person.

The result is remarkable. Within seconds, the anger dissipates and calm  is restored.

The trick to de=escalating strong emotions is learning how to ignore the words, pay attention to the emotions, and reflect back the emotions with a simple "you." statement.

Some Posts to Get You Started

I write and teach about de-escalating strong emotions.

De-Escalate Anyone, Anytime

Although the skills are easy to learn, they are counter-intuitive. 

September 21, 2020

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August 15, 2020

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June 30, 2015

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June 8, 2015

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Get Doug's Book

De-Escalate: How to Calm an Angry Person in 90 Seconds or Less

And receive deep discounts on Doug's online training when you purchase the book.

de-escalate doug noll