As we near the end of the semester and finals stress sets in, you may encounter students who are overwhelmed or frustrated. Sometimes these feelings of frustration can be taken out on faculty or staff members, whether that be a classroom disruption or personal confrontation.
Here are some tips from Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution to help calm down frustrated students, de-escalate situations and keep a conversation moving forward productively.
There are many reasons students may choose to escalate a conversation. Sometimes students get upset or angry when they have been trying to solve a problem and continuously experience frustration or failure due to an obstacle, challenge or miscommunication. They may feel powerless or that they have a lack of control over a situation.
Stress from other areas of life (e.g., finances, going home for the holidays, finding a job) may be causing feelings of being overwhelmed, and there may be a perceived inability to have their needs met.
Here’s what you can do when engaging in conversation with a frustrated student to help de-escalate the situation:
If a student is using threatening body language, making physical body contact or using oppressive or derogatory language toward you, do not try to de-escalate the situation on your own. If you ever feel unsafe in a situation, leave and call the CU Police Department.
For more tips on de-escalating conflict, Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution is available to assist with consultations or referrals.