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Publisher's Summary

Discover how to successfully and efficiently calm an angry person or diffuse a volatile situation in 90 seconds or less with this proven and accessible peacekeeping method by self-described "lawyer turned peacemaker" Douglas E. Noll.

We live in an increasingly divided world, and most of us have encountered our fair share of aggressive people and difficult confrontations. Fortunately, we now have the tools to become peacemakers and transform emotionally volatile situations and hurt feelings to calm, nonaggressive ones.

Tested on prison inmates, De-Escalate offers a new set of social listening and communication skills based on the latest findings in neuroscience and meditation. Along with practical exercises and scenario-based examples, each chapter focuses on specific themes, such as dealing with emotionally charged teenagers and frustrated coworkers. Additionally, Noll shares practical tips on how to be civil in an uncivil society.

With De-Escalate, we can bring peace to all facets of life, cultivate healthier relationships, and participate in creating a more caring and compassionate future for us all.

©2017 Douglas E. Noll (P)2017 Atria Books/Beyond Words

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What listeners say about De-Escalate

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Difficult if not painful to listen to

Having read a number of books that address similar content, this was a disappointment. I found the example dialogues entirely unfathomable (so stilted and unnatural in style and language that there’s no way one could apply the advice in this way). And to make matters worse the narration sounded almost computerized, it felt like I was listening to an unengaging book narrated by Siri. I held on for over 2 hours hoping the content might improve but it just didn’t and I couldn’t force myself to last through 5 more hours. So it’s possible there are some gems after the first 2 hours that I missed out on, but this one is going back.

5 people found this helpful

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If everyone could read this book, the world would be different!

This book is so much more and beyond than calming angry person. The matrix of the emotional Invalidation we all go through is relentless and abusive. I feel if our parents knew this, if we knew this for our children life would have been so much easier and happier. The only thing I am sad is that I didn’t know about this techniques and had understanding of this concept earlier! Gratitude Gratitude! Please read/listen to this book and keep sharing it!

4 people found this helpful

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Very Useful Info, Terrible Narrator

The author clearly has a lot of experience in mediation and provides a clear framework for dealing with others' and one's own charged emotions. Unfortunately the narrator is, for me, almost unlistenable. I'm sure she is a lovely person, but I will forever be baffled as to why someone with great information to share would choose a bad narrator. Her inflection is off, her reading is wooden and mechanical, and she has this distracting habit of making a nasal sound before "th" words, so that they come out like ,"nngthis," and "nngthe." But this audible oddity is not limited to "th" words alone, so I spent a great deal of the book in cringing anticipation of the next time it would happen. If the writing had been poor or the topic less interesting I would have stopped listening based upon her performance alone.

1 person found this helpful

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Amazing new skills

A whole new level of listening, responding, and understanding (self and others) through de-escalation. Recommended!

1 person found this helpful

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Practical Training for Promoting Peace

Research-based practices presented in an accessible format, the tools in De-Escalate have many possible applications. I recommend this book to therapists, parents, teachers, workers...anyone who would benefit from being able to listen deeply and diffuse difficult or even violent situations.

1 person found this helpful

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Learn 'presuasive' skills to conflict resolution

As a newly married, middle-aged man, I feel fortunate to have found this book at this time. Once I started reading the print version, I immediately also bought the audio version. This book's valuable insights into deep listening and emotional intelligence are already paying huge dividends in my relationship. I’m a firm believer that couples (new and old) will save themselves a lifetime of heartache if they understood and mastered the skills taught by Doug.

Anger short-circuits the listening process and it is nigh impossible to change someone's mind while they're still angry whether their anger is justified or not. Listening to an angry person can also be difficult especially when you're the subject of their imprecations and vituperations. Getting into a shouting match or physical altercation rarely resolves issues. Passive aggressive tactics are subtle and adversarial. Coercion and manipulation may provide short-term compliance but with a win-lose outcome. This book, however, teaches you how to listen past the outbursts to respond to the heart of the issue in order to de-escalate the situation in preparation for moving the conversation towards a solution or resolution. It's a set of 'pre-solution' strategies.

One thing to know though, De-Escalate doesn't teach you a lot of tactics for resolving conflicts after you've calmed the angry party down. That's not the primary focus of this book. For that, you'll need other resources. So, will the solutions presented in this book always work? No! The author acknowledges this also. But would they move you closer to resolution, consensus and peace? I have no doubt. I have yet to find a better strategy than presented here.

I have read comments about the narrator being boring or stilted. I probably didn't notice because I often listen to audiobooks at least 1.5x. I had also read the book about halfway before I started listening to the audio version which may be a reason why I wasn't bothered with how it sounded. I had already 'heard' the author's voice in my head before I heard the narrator's. If the narration bother's you, get the print version instead. Don't let a bad narration stop you from acquiring life-transforming skills.

Although it doesn’t state this in the title, this book is a masterclass in leadership because great listening skills help others to feel seen. And people who feel seen, in a world that generally ignores and/or invalidates them, are generally more compliant, conciliatory and complementary rather than contradictory or confrontational in their words and actions. What better qualities can a leader inspire in those they lead.

One of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood”. Doug helps you understand how to do this better by doing a deeper, practical, contemporary dive into how to deal with the acrimony that is fast becoming the norm in day-to-day interactions; socially, at work, in your family and on social media. Through the lessons in this book, we can become thermostats that regulate our interactions towards peace rather than thermometers that reflect to others the behaviors they show to us, no matter how vile.

Doug, through De-Escalate, provides a vision for peacemaking and the clearest roadmap I’ve ever come across to getting there for anyone who wants to, age or academic achievement irrespective. This is a workbook and textbook rolled into one. Sure, you may find that the conversation examples don't reflect your reality. I doubt the author was trying to give a verbatim example for any context, something I think would be very difficult because of the differing socio-cultural contexts and understandings from reader to reader. But if you can layer on your own experiences onto the framework he has provided, you may find your lens of understanding widened. In this way, the author is inviting us into a more active reading of this book. It would prove more useful digested than just regurgitated. I intend to read and practice this book's strategies over till they become second nature. I sincerely hope more people read this book with understanding and learn its scientifically proven strategies for listening. Our world would be less tense, less dangerous and more enjoyable to live in.

There are thousands of self-help books out there and I’ve read more than a few. Not many are worth the paper they’re written on but De-Escalate, I would carve in stone and hang on a mantle in the home of everyone I care about. Peace to all.

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Mind numbingly boring.

Narration is god awful. Like listening to a sedated boring robot Material is presented in such a mind numbing manner I couldn’t stand the thought of completing the entire book.

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Some good ideas. Quite redundant.

This book has some good strategies I found it very redundant. It was hard to listen to.

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Practical and helpful

There are loads of examples to help demonstrate the principles explained in this book. Its a great reference book that I will be revisiting again and again. Definitely an essential life skill tool.

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Promotes Abuse, Slow Narration


The narration is ludicrously slow. It doesn't sound like a normal speech pattern until you get it up to about 1.40x. I suppose they've probably done it to make to book look longer and more worth the money.

Also, this book advises people, especially women, to sooth and empathize with emotionally abusive male partners, and encourages them to treat guys who need therapy as projects they can "fix".

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  • John
  • 09-29-18

Good content, poor reader

Monotone and emotionless. I know it’s supposed to be about controlling emotions and remaining calm but the reader over eggs this. Some of the content is repetitive but the overall information is useful.
Not really sure of a real world comparison. I don’t regularly get someone angry reply ‘yeah’ after just 1 or 2 ‘insightful’ comments.