Snow Shoveling Incident: Conflict De-Escalation

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Conflict avoidance and conflict de-escalation are the first two rules of personal defense. Rob Pincus presents a real-life situation where these were not practiced, and the result was a tragedy that could have been avoided.


1. Avoid confrontation whenever you can.
2. De-escalate conflict when it occurs.

If you remember these two key self-defense concepts and live by them, you will probably avoid a lot of opportunities to need the physical skills we teach here at Personal Defense Network. But the fact is, it’s very easy to get sucked into confrontation. It’s also easy to become complacent with something you would consider low-level confrontation, with little to no chance of it escalating into actual physical violence or something that could lead to your death.

The reality is, it happens far too often, and we frequently have video evidence of people getting drawn into confrontation, creating confrontation, or not de-escalating a situation to the point where they become safer.


You may have seen this video, which relates to shoveling snow in a common area. It’s a classic example of people not avoiding confrontation and not using conflict de-escalation. One man can be seen repeatedly engaging another man, who eventually comes back with a firearm. For our purposes, it doesn’t matter what the point of contention was or who “started it.”

We don’t need audio with this video — we can see that the one man’s body language and gestures are escalating this conflict. He clearly has no idea that he is about to be killed. Same for the woman with him, who also uses aggressive gestures. When the person returns and points a gun at them, their body language remains defiant. They do not look scared. They look complacent and comfortable. Perhaps they thought it could never happen to them.


Maybe you don’t think it could happen to you. But getting sucked into an argument, continuing that argument when tempers are flaring and especially when a firearm is present, is a recipe for disaster.

Rob stresses that it doesn’t matter if you can defend yourself physically or are confident in your self-defense abilities such as being able to use a firearm. If you can avoid physical use of force, you will be much better off.

Conflict avoidance and conflict de-escalation: Practice these two rules of personal defense.