The pandemic has created an atmosphere of stress for many because of the social isolation caused by work  and school closures. 

Recognize that others may have their own issues or stresses, so that if they are hostile towards you, that hostility might be a reflection of their own conflicts or problems.  

So this is a time when conflicts or disagreements may be escalated. The question is, what can be done to de-escalate situations?

First of all, I would suggest a non-threatening approach to others. That means not insulting, name-calling, demeaning, or ridiculing others. It means not bullying, threatening, or giving ultimatums.

It is desirable not to judge others or make assumptions, especially negative assumptions about them. In other words, this means giving others the benefit of the doubt.  

This also means being tolerant of the opinions of others, which is having an attitude of being open-minded.

Above all, it means being civil and respectful. Compassion and understanding towards others goes a long way in conflict resolution and negotiations.

When people feel threatened, angry, or anxious, they are the most likely to argumentative or oppositional. So anything that you can do to help them to feel better about themselves, more confident, can assist in de-escalations.

Appealing to the wisdom and intelligence of others is always a goal in successful negotiations.

When trying to help others solve their issues or problems, instead of attempting to tell others how they should solve their problems, put the responsibility on them. Help them to be introspective about their own issues or problems and come up with their own solutions. 

The implied message here is that you believe that they have the ability to examine their own problems and can create their own plan and strategy of working  towards solutions. This puts the ball in their court, which can be very validating and empowering.

Where the disagreements are political in nature, finding common ground, common goals and beliefs, can be valuable. For example, whether you are a Democrat or Republican, you are still an American, which implies common goals for the best interests of the country.  

Unfortunately, there are always some people who may be trying to pick a fight, making statements that are designed to inflame. You don’t have to take the bait and can simply tell them that they have the right to their opinions, but that you don’t necessarily have to agree with them.  

As mentioned in a previous article, it is a valuable approach to repeat what they have expressed back to the other person. Ask them if you have correctly interpreted their comments, and if not,re-state them until they believe that you have correctly interpreted their comments.

People should be willing to admit that everyone makes mistakes and that everyone is imperfect, but, hopefully, everyone can learn from their mistakes and not repeat them.

Another important point is that everyone should be entitled to change their views or attitudes on any particular subject. Times change, and sometimes people also do.

In summary, a non-threatening and non-hostile approach, with compassion and tolerance towards others is the approach most likely to resolve disagreements and to de-escalate conflicts.  

Your comments or reactions are welcomed.

Daniel Rich is a retired therapist and independent opinion columnist for Morro Bay Life; you can email him at