Classroom Management

Diffusing Potentially Violent Behavior


  • Project calmness: Move and speak slowly, quietly, yet confidently.
  • Be respectful.
  • Be an empathetic listener, encourage the person to talk and listen carefully and patiently (this can be hard when a person is ranting). Focus your attention on the person.
  • Sit close to the door, don't get right in front of the person, and maintain a relaxed posture.
  • Acknowledge the person's feelings. Indicate that you see the person is upset. You can validate the feeling without condoning negative acts. (I understand you feel______, and it's not okay to _______).
  • Form some bond/connection.
  • Use delaying tactics to help the person calm down. (Offer a drink of water in a paper cup).
  • Be reassuring and point out choices. Break problems into smaller, more manageable pieces.
  • Call Campus Police if you feel threatened.

Do Not:

  • Be cold, apathetic, condescending robotic (going strictly by the rules without human factor).
  • Reject all of the person's demands from the start.
  • Pose in challenging stances (hands on hips, crossing arms). Try to avoid physical contact, finger-pointing, staring, and/or invading the person's space.
  • Make sudden movements that could be seen as threatening, remember to move and speak slowly.
  • Challenge, threaten, belittle or dare the individual.
  • Criticize or act impatiently toward the agitated individual.
  • Attempt to bargain with a threatening individual.
  • Make false statements or promises you can't keep.
  • Downplay the seriousness of the situation.
  • Try to focus on technical or complicated information when emotions are high.
  • Take sides or agree with distortions.