Being able to mitigate a heated situation before it turns violent is a skill you should have, especially if you go armed. This seems to be of ever-more pressing importance in modern society. It is also of great concern currently, in the midst of this pandemic, where we find seemingly normal people getting irate over insignificant things. Avoiding conflict is the top choice and being able to de-escalate before things gets violent is second best. Resorting to force should always be our last choice.
I think that as we become softer as a society and men are less likely to punch each other in the face over insulting behavior (perhaps a good thing) some men are more prone to fly off the handle for foolish things. A perfect example is road rage, or as I like to call it, “dance of the modern beta male.” When an idiot flies into a rage over somebody cutting him off it seems clear to me that the individual does not expect his fellow man, or woman, to be dangerous. It also indicates that the soft cube-dwelling life of such a specimen leads to pent up aggression of some sort. Thus, a society of softness actually encourages certain aggressive behavior. The very-real possibility of getting pummeled for being such a jerk tends to keep such behavior in check. Obviously, the expectation of this is absent for most.
Anyway, regardless of our contemporary infestation of cube-dwelling beta males with pent up rage, we need to de-escalate heated situations if possible. As an armed citizen especially, this is not only a good idea, but it is your obligation. To begin, the best way to de-escalate is to not cause your own issues. Flipping people off or yelling at people in traffic has no place in the behavior of a gun carrier. It has no place in the behavior of anyone with a semblance of civility, but specifically, if you go armed you had better not make a habit out of such behavior. Road rage should be a foreign concept to you.
If you are forced to deal with a jerk that wants to start trouble over a parking space or other such nonsense, de-escalate if you can. Saying “sorry, I did not mean to offend” can go a long way toward cooling things down. Obviously, if you indeed did something to start the situation, you should be willing to apologize. Now, granted, there are individuals that will not cease hostilities even if they get an apology out of you, and they need to be handled as threats if they get aggressive. Manage their encroachment; don’t let them make contact if they look like they are working up to an assault. Demand that they stay back, and be ready to use force (if the threat is not armed then we are talking about less-lethal force here, pepper spray shines in such a situation). Don’t instigate, de-escalate if you can, and manage the threat while you do this.
If the desire to be civilized is not enough to lead you to de-escalate a bad situation, perhaps this idea will: bear in mind that there are cameras everywhere today. In fact, you should go on the assumption that your actions in public places are, by default, recorded on video. In the aftermath of a use-of-force, even a less-lethal use of force, what would you wish that the footage shows? You trying to calm and de-escalate the situation, or you instigating the situation? This is something to consider.
As Theodore Roosevelt suggested, “walk softly, and carry a big stick.”