Violence is an issue in numerous settings, ranging from healthcare centers to retail stores. About two million people in the United States experience at least one incident while working each year.

Although you’d have your Pepper Spray or Stun Gun on you at all times in a perfect world, we all leave our homes forgetting something important occasionally. Those moments tend to be when you need the items you left behind the most.

Here’s some good news. When you know some essential verbal de-escalation techniques, you have a self-defense tool that you can use anywhere.

Start by Creating an Effective Line of Communication

Anger follows the shape of an iceberg. You only get to see a little bit of what is brewing beneath the surface. Since this emotion also dulls the thinking process, what seems like a logical situation to you could become another trigger to a potential assailant.

Try to listen to what the other person says. Even if verbal expressions cannot talk about an actual need, you can pick up on body language and other non-verbal cues to make an educated guess.

It’s not you vs. them. Treat the person as an essential member of society, and the incident might resolve without further actions needed.

Control Your Adrenaline Surge

Once you know you’re in the middle of a dangerous situation, a hormonal surge occurs to activate your fight-or-flight response. The best thing you can do at this moment is to take a deep breath while planning a potential escape. Unless the individual has a projectile weapon, it helps to stay at least two arm lengths away from the potential assailant.

Stay at eye level with that person, but don’t stare them down. Try to keep your posture relaxed and expression neutral to prevent misinterpretation.

Use Short Sentences When Speaking

Try to avoid slang or jargon whenever you can when communicating with an angry or escalated individual. Shorter sentences are easier to understand in these situations, especially when they’re filled with a dose of extra empathy. Even if the reason for the other person’s behavior seems trivial, take a deeper dive into the situation to try to understand their perspective.

When you can see life through their eyes, it’s a little easier to de-escalate a situation verbally. The goal is to keep the conversation respectful. You don’t need to answer rude or hostile questions.

Have a Backup Plan Available

Although the goal might be stopping an attack using your words, that outcome doesn’t always happen. It helps to have a self-defense tool you can grab quickly if things don’t go as expected. From Pepper Sprays to Stun Guns to Small Knives, the goal should be to get out of that situation by whatever means possible if you feel threatened.

Most angry people want someone to listen to their grievances. If you take the time to do this, many situations resolve themselves. A practical self-defense tool can help you escape when that option isn’t available.