Let's Talk: How to Act in a Heated Situation
A friend of mine called me today asking for advice about a situation at work. It seems so silly, to a point that I actually had to stop him and ask if I heard him right (let's just say there were burgers involved). Of course the situation was way deeper, and my friend got in a heated argument with someone who is higher in a position. Outcome: people are upset, work environment is tense, emotions are involved, and the consequences are uncertain. How many times have you had to deal with a similar situation and handled it well?
I have once been accused of being too non-confrontational. My best friend at times stopped being friends with me, because she saw it as a sign of weakness. To me a sign of a weak character is quite the opposite - the inability to control your emotions when trying to establish your point of view. You don't have to agree with everybody, and you have the right to stand up for yourself, but it is best to do so when you are composed, rational and vocal. So how do you handle a situation when things get tense? Here are a few tips that will help you build better communication skills:
- We are human beings living in our own world. It is okay to disagree.
- Be aware of how much your emotions rule you. If you are starting to get upset, it's because you care. If you care you are alive. Congratulations. Now, take a deep breath.
- Acknowledge your emotions. An argument happens when someone doesn't yet understand how you feel. Same they goes the other way, you have no idea where the other person is coming from. That's exactly why you need to communicate.
- It isn't just about you. Other people with the same emotions are involved.
- Nobody reads minds. You will need to speak up.
- When you do speak up, use sentences that are logical. Detach as much as you can from emotions. Explaining someone your point is almost like explaining how the world works to a child. In this case you are explaining how YOUR world works.
- Turn an argument into a discussion. Be open to other opinions. Basically, don't be stubborn and really listen to your opponent. There is a chance that you are the one who is wrong in the situation. Be open to admitting your mistakes.
- Don't be pushy. The higher the volume of an argument, the harder it will be to present your point of view, and the more closed up your opponent will become defending his side.
- At the same time state your point clearly and vocalize what you want. Think what you are trying to achieve with this conversation.
- Be honest with yourself. Really ask yourself where you are coming from. Is your ego trying to cloud your brain? Why are you reacting so strongly? Is it because of past traumatic experiences? Focus on the present one. Detach from your past behaviours.
I am a firm believer that you can get your point across to anybody if you present it in a calm and precise manner. People are different. It's important to understand that the situation doesn't need to get heated if you don't want it to. We can and should be in control of our emotions. Your goal is to diminish your stress level. Redirecting a heated argument into a constructive conversation is your way of taking care of yourself. Be your own friend.
Let me know if you want more posts about the art of communication. Let's talk more!
Photography credit: Odin+Ixie