Dispersing A Threatening Situation

According to The British Crime Survey, up to 150 lone workers are attacked every single day. With that in mind, this week will look at the best ways of dispersing a threatening situation.

Keeping Calm

Easier said than done we know, but keeping calm has two huge benefits. By not responding in an aggressive manner you are stopping a threatening situation from becoming even more volatile.

Secondly, if you are able to keep calm then it will make being able to think clearly and logically much easier.

Just a couple of deep breaths, breathing in through the nose, holding your breath for three to five seconds and slowly breathing out, can have a big calming effect.

Adrenaline is incredibly useful in threating situations and can make the difference between life and death, but it can also push us into doing things that maybe we shouldn’t.

So, by trying to be calm and breathe slowly, you should be able to think in a calm and methodical way in order to try to disperse the threatening situation.

the image shows a man being aggressive towards a woman
Aggressive businessman shouting at colleague with megaphone


It is very easy and understandably so, to feel overwhelmed in a threatening situation. By dealing with everything one step at a time, you can compartmentalise all the problems that need to be solved into different stages.

Firstly, how threatened do you feel? Your gut instinct will be a good indicator of these. If you feel that the situation is potentially life-threatening, then it may well be too late to try and calm things down

Self-preservation is the number one priority. Can you make an escape, or can you alert someone?

Alerting someone may attract attention, which is why our lone worker devices are designed to be operated discreetly, one click of a button and an alert will be sent to the lone worker monitoring centre.

This is one reason why, as a lone worker visiting a location for the first time, to do an assessment of the area. How far away are you from your car or a public place?

If you are in a building or a closed room, how many exits are there? Can you remember the route back to a safe location quickly?

Don’t Fight Fire With Fire

There can be a natural reaction in a threatening situation, especially in confronted by an aggressive person to be aggressive back.

This is more than likely going to make the situation worse. So, try to remain calm and neutral.

Try to assess why the situation is threatening, are they being aggressive because they are frustrated or angry or are they under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol it is less likely that they will be rational and able to calm down. In which case go back to looking after your self-preservation.

If you feel you are able to communicate with them, try to get the message across that you are listening and want to help.

Sometimes people can become aggressive because they don’t feel understood and frustration leads to aggression and confrontation.

If they are able to explain why they are angry it can take the sting out of the situation, even just a few seconds for them to break the cycle of angry thoughts may be enough for them to dial it back a little bit.

Obviously, if at any stage your instinct starts to tell you that you are in immediate danger then don’t put yourself in any extra trouble and concentrate on leaving, if you can, or getting some help.

the image shows a man with a crowbar looking threatening

Lone Worker Training

Any companies employing lone workers must provide sufficient lone worker training. Here at First2HelpYou we provide many types of lone worker training, if you would like more info here is the lone worker training page on our website.

Lone worker training should help lone workers in assessing potentially threatening situations and may mean that they can be pre-emptively stopped before they escalate too far.

Body Language

Body Language is important too. It is likely that a threatening situation will involve lots of aggressive body language, pointing and pushing etc

So, it is important not to respond in kind and try to remain neutral, calm and confident.

Further Reading

Mindtools have written an excellent article on dealing with angry people that we would definitely recommend you read.

Get In Touch

If you would any more information on dispersing threatening situations or our lone worker devices and the other services we provide, then please do not hesitate to get in touch. Alternatively, have a look at our Buyer’s Guide here.

You can call us on 0333 7729401, email us at sales@first2helpyou.co.uk or via our online contact form here.