How to Defuse a Panicking Mob

Have you ever been in the midst of an uncomfortable crowd situation? Have things started to heat up and get out of control? Has someone in the crowd shouted things like, "Get him/them/her!" or "Attack!" Or have you been in such a charged moment that a hive-like mind seemed to take over the group of you that would never have occurred if you had been with only yourself or one other person? If so, read on:


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    If someone has shouted something that would ordinarily seem ridiculous to you, but sounds likely right now, take a step back and think: Would I be proud of this decision tomorrow?
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    Be loud. If someone has shouted something silly, shout louder something that will put people in a kind of pause. Things like, "Hold up," or "Wait," or even "No!" If its not louder than the other guy or loud enough to quell the uprising, you're going to have to run in the other direction. Things will get bad quickly and you do not want to be there when they do.
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    Take action. Wave your arms or jump up and down. Take the attention off the subject in question and point it at yourself. Redirecting the point of focus can get people thinking again. Of course, try to maintain a distance from people in case you need a quick get away.
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    Sound Reasonable. Once you've got their attention, you must engage the crowd with logic. Ask questions that get people thinking. Things that pull heartstrings like, "Would your mamas want you to be doing this?" may or may not work. There was a time when you could ask people certain questions in a religious context but with the rise of so many atheists in this decade, its hard to guilt people into a corrective action. It's a 50-50 proposition.
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    Call authorities. If you just can't correct the actions being taken by the many, run to the nearest safe-place and call the authorities. In any country there is an emergency number to use.(1)
    • It's 9-1-1 in the USA, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Singapore
    • It's 1-1-9 in Asia (a majority of Asian countries)
    • It's 1-0-0 in India
    • It's 9-9-9 in China and Hong Kong as well as for Macau, Malaysia, Oman, Bahrain, Bangladesh & UAE
    • Others use either 1-1-2 or variations in the 1 0 0 range


  • Research the emergency numbers of all countries before visiting them.
  • Know your exits and anticipate possibilities of danger as much as possible.
  • Get to know the people to the left and right of you so you can say their names to get allies if things get a little more hectic but still in the safe zone. People respond to their names and can be snapped out of a crowd-trance.
  • Keep a charged cell phone on you if possible. If not, always keep emergency coins for a payphone.
  • Remember to smile. People keep things light with a smiler and are not threatened by someone who will smile.


  • If you feel the situation getting tense and nothing you've tried has worked, get out.
  • If you cannot get out, stand still. Do not allow others to push you forward.
  • Scream help. People are shocked by this action/reaction. Scream it like you are being attacked, even if you are not being attacked. BE LOUD!!!
  • Do not get into situations you feel are over your head. Always try to have enough distance between you and your neighbor so that, if you did need to escape, you would have enough room to do so.

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Categories: Managing Negative Feelings | Social Interactions