Being Water, Not Gas: Strategies & Tools to Effectively De-escalate Others

Being Water, Not Gas: Strategies & Tools to Effectively De-escalate Others
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2020-09-02
Unit 1Slide Deck: Being Water, Not Gas
Unit 2Transcript: Being Water, Not Gas
Unit 3Workbook: Being Water, Not Gas
Unit 4Recording: Being Water, Not Gas

Bruce Lee is famously quoted for saying “Be Water, my friend,” but what does it exactly mean? Dr. Kimberly Miller is back on the Justice Clearinghouse to dissect what exactly being water means and its value in our lives, work, and relationships. This course zeroes in on de-escalation techniques rooted in the properties of water.

Audience-favorite Dr. Miller is a sought-after speaker, consultant, and trainer who utilizes strength-, relationship-, and skill-based approaches in facilitating individual and organizational change. She conducts workshops, coaching, and organizational intervention to enhance the skills and performance of individuals, leaders, and organizations.

Topics she tackled on this discussion are:

  • What it means to be water – formless, shapeless, calm, fosters growth, finds a way – and juxtaposing it with gas.
  • The space a de-escalator must be in in terms of mindset, emotions, habits, and energy.
  • Why one must take safety, situation, relationship, resource, coping method, and the ultimate goal into account when de-escalating others.
  • A rundown of the qualities that de-escalators must possess to effectively interact and build rapport with the subject.
  • Guidelines on how to approach a subject that needs de-escalation by considering one’s demeanor, stance, and ability to observe, connect, and provide the subject’s unmet needs.
  • Top tips to employ during the process of de-escalation that highlights calming and grounding techniques and strategies to persuade them to communicate.
  • Sample de-escalation phrases that may be used to provide the subject with reassurance, validation, and get them busy.
  • The importance of having de-escalators regulate their emotions to remain logical, prevent emotional contamination, and be able to plant seeds of influence on the subject.
  • Pointers on conduct and practices to avoid when de-escalating somebody.
  • The most vital concepts to understand and integrate for effective de-escalation – programming, influence, rapport/relationship, self-care, and energy management.

Audience questions were about:

  • The four reasons for negative emotions.
  • How to help someone unpack their feelings and needs without justifying things like resorting to violence.
  • Applying de-escalation concepts and strategies for subordinates to lead up their superiors.



This is the last of a 2-Part Series:


Audience Comments

  • “De-Escalation tactics, this balanced well with the first part of the series, excellent explanations, and suggestions on to approach victims, as well as family.” — Renee
  • “A reminder of the Human Experience that we all encounter in the work we do. Great info!!!” — Aisha
  • “I think the analogy used to present the material really made the content digestible. It’s a quick image to remember when you are in the midst of an escalated situation.” — Amy
  • “WOW! Writer’s cramp from pages of notes. With everything going on now, this should be a mandatory college class! THANK YOU, Dr. Miller – you always give us the practical, ‘how to do it”!” — Roseann
  • “Seemed like a very trauma-informed response for de-escalation.”  — Cari
  • “This has been a fantastic series.” — Christey
  • “Dr. Miller presented so much useful information and provided clear examples regarding De-escalation. Thank you.” — Deirdre
  • “I love this presenter! I learn so many valuable ideas and how to apply them to my professional and personal life.” — Jeannette
  • “This was a great training. I loved her use of real-life examples, which helps me to visualize the information being relayed.” — JENNIFER
  • “Great info, lots packed into brief time. I really like how you illustrated principles for cops, corrections, and even in one’s personal life; you didn’t get caught up in trying to reconcile principles with specific policies. You included EQ, MI, and other concepts without lists and jargon. Well done.” — Karen
  • “Learning that de-escalation starts with me and understanding how to be like the water…love this metaphor. I’ve taken many de-escalation trainings but this training exceeds the others with strategies and tools to use on a daily basis.”  — Lisa



This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit in Core 1 (ACO Safety) for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.




** This webinar has been certified by the National Sheriffs' Association and may be eligible for Continuing Education Units through your POST. Please consult your local certification processes for additional details. Paid subscribers that attend will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Sheriffs' Association logo.
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