Saturday, August 24, 2013

How Antoinette Tuff Averted a Disaster in a Georgia School

By now, most of us have heard the story of the courageous woman in the Georgia school, who single-handedly persuaded an armed gunman from shooting up a school and by doing so, avoiding another Sandy Hook tragedy. Her name is AntoinetteTuff and that name could not be more appropriate.  Hats off to you,Antoinette! You are a true hero.

Let me also comment on the tactic she used to defuse the unbelievably tense situation. I have written about the concept of "mirror neurons" before and how they can be used to defuse anger and avoid unnecessary confrontations.. Basically, this theory says that we are all hard-wired to reflect the emotions of others and adopt them as our own. That is what Ms Tuff did with the alleged gunman. She made it clear to him that she understood his situation and even pointed out that she had also been through difficult times recently and managed to get through them. Using this technique she was able to get the alleged gunman to surrender to police without a single injury.

Now, I'm sure Ms Tuff never heard of the theory of "mirror neurons", but she knew in her mind that the only way she could avoid tragedy was to treat  the gunman in a way that would defuse his pent-up anger and despair. Most of us, fortunately, will never be faced with this type of horrific scenario, but each of us will face situations that can become explosive such as a hostile customer or a road rage driver. The Georgia school situation demonstrates that showing a little bit of understanding of the other person's position can go a long way in resolving potential conflict. Try it next time you are in a situation where conflict seems inevitable. You may well be surprised at the outcome.

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