Non-Violent Ways to Deal with Conflict and Confrontation

I. Prevent 

  • Go in pairs or groups when possible.
  • Carry a cell phone.
  • Trust your instincts. If a situation doesn’t ‘feel’ right, leave. Avoid eye contact and keep moving.
  • If English is not your primary language, try to speak English in public areas until things cool down.
  • Consider de-emphasizing outward trappings of ethnicity if this is reasonable and acceptable to you.

II. De-escalate 

  • If someone calls you names or ethnic slurs, or taunts you verbally, don’t respond verbally. It is best to walk away. If possible, walk toward a group of people.
  • Don’t yell back. Don’t taunt or tease back. Be courteous.
  • Be aware of your body language. Try not to tense up your muscles, or ‘square off’ your shoulders. If possible, turn your palms up in a universal gesture of conciliation.
  • Make eye contact, but don’t stare.
  • Stay calm.
  • If you need to talk with this person, lower your voice and speak more slowly. Don’t match his raised tone of voice.
  • Summarize clearly what you hear the individual saying. Your summary of the individual’s concerns reflects your respect and attention.
  • Try to walk side-by-side with the person, rather than standing face-to-face.
  • If you are in a discussion or argument with someone, try to find something you can agree on. It may be a very small point of agreement, but this can become a bridge between two people.

The following are some safety tips about going to malls culled from a security website (, which may be useful. The threat of physical assault does not necessarily increase along with the crowds…It’s when you’re far from the crowd, in distant reaches of parking lots or other isolated areas of the mall that you are most vulnerable. To protect yourself: 

  • Always try to walk to and from your vehicle with another person. If you are shopping alone, consider walking near other shoppers in the parking lot. 
  • Avoid using bathrooms that are tucked away in a back area of a mall concourse or department. If you can, find a bathroom near the mall’s food court or other well-trafficked area. And always accompany your child to the bathroom. 
  • If shopping alone and leaving at night — particularly if you’re carrying several bundles — ask a security officer to accompany you to your car. Most malls will provide that service 
  • Inside a mall, avoid darkened hallways and other backroom areas, especially near closing time. 


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