SPONSORED CONTENT -- (StatePoint) This year, voters can expect not only the stressors of potential long lines at the polls, but also mask mandates, social distancing, outspoken political views and personal challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of that, recent incidents involving voter intimidation have made some increasingly anxious about what to do if a conflict arises.
According to experts at the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI), the global leader in de-escalation training for over 40 years, the key to surviving what the “Psychiatric Times” has dubbed 2020 election anxiety starts with mentally preparing for in-person voting, and practicing responses to best ensure a non-confrontational experience.
“Having trained teachers, nurses and others who interact with the public, and being a social worker myself, I know the immense need for de-escalation training in the workplace and in everyday life,” says Amber Belle, a global CPI trainer and an upcoming poll monitor for the 2020 election. “Learning conflict-prevention techniques can help ensure that voting is the positive experience it is meant to be.”
To help voters prepare, CPI has identified probable areas of conflict and how to best mitigate tension. They recommend voters embrace four simple techniques to prevent and reduce conflict this election season:
1. Avoid judgment. Understand that everyone has different life experiences and may be overwhelmed with struggles and anxiety from things you know nothing about. Listen and focus on the feelings behind the message.
2. Don’t take it personally. Another person’s behavior is not about you. You are likely not the true target of someone’s behavior. Tell yourself, “This may not be about the two of us; it may be about other issues in their life.” Or repeat to yourself, “I’m going to be respectful. I’m going to be respectful.”
3. Control your reaction. You can’t control another person’s behavior, but you can control how you react. Avoid using facial expressions, gestures and language that could make another person feel anxious or defensive.
4. Be prepared if you have to engage. Have a plan to acknowledge and redirect. Here are some things you could potentially say:
• “Yeah. This year has been difficult on everyone.”
• “This is an important election. Every vote counts.”
• “I’m glad to see such great voter turnout.”
• “It’s great to witness so many exercising their right to vote.”
• “We’ll all be glad to have this year behind us.”
Over four decades, CPI has trained more than 15 million individuals in its techniques, spanning many industries and professions, specifically health care and education. CPI tracks violent incidents in the industries it trains, and data shows that de-escalation skills, when used correctly, can quickly decrease violence.
For customized voting and election season de-escalation tips, as well as more information on de-escalation, visit crisisprevention.com/election. Voters should also make sure to follow all local and state rules that apply to their polling place.
During a particularly tense election season, having a few techniques at the ready can help ensure a seamless, conflict-free day at the polls.
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