De-escalation concepts do not change just because of a pandemic and mask! For example, people will always want and need to be treated with respect, and you can do that with an awareness of your ACE.
Appearance, communication and engagement, your ACE, those 3 fundamental, basic concepts will not change either. To increase the likelihood that you will successfully and effectively de-escalate a situation in a world where just about everyone is wearing a mask, you need to be aware of, and in control of, the nonverbal messages from your body posture and body stance. Are you squaring off with someone as if you want to get into a physical fight? Are you standing there with your arms crossed and your head tilted to one side as if your time is totally being wasted and you’d rather be somewhere else? Are you rolling your eyes?
We all have learned how to read body language by now, we can sense someone is angry by their walk, their stance, their posture and all that does not change because someone is wearing a mask. We all learned at an early age a thing called “tone of voice”, beginning with when one of our parents sternly said to us, “Don’t you talk to me in that tone of voice!”. Regardless if a person is wearing a mask, we will be able to tell by their tone of voice if they are stress, agitated and angry.
And being engaged in the moment with a person simply means we actually listen and let them talk, let them vent. After all, everyone wants to be treated with respect, right? One of the quickest ways we can do that is to simply just listen. We acknowledge what they are saying by repeating some things and make small comments, we use active reflective listening. None of that has nothing to do with whether either of you are wearing a mask or not. It’s basic courtesy. Reading body language is innate, automatic, instinctive, part of the human animal’s flight or fight defensive mechanism.
De-escalation concepts do not change just because of a pandemic and mask! So, knowing all that, chances are VERY good that a stressed, agitated, angry person will no doubt be able to sense and read YOUR body language and tone of voice, so don’t lose self control and self discipline and start using a snarky, sarcastic, condescending tone of voice! Don’t stand there and roll your eyes, or cross your arms with a bored expression, and don’t sigh out loud! Otherwise, YOU may just end up doing or saying something that will escalate a situation.