Have you ever had to pick your head up off the floor? For some reason a question or an opinion led to a real episode. Question. Explosion. You scratch your head as confusion rapidly runs to the forefront of your brain. What? As the incident replays in the back of your mind, you wonder, “What did I do?” All the while the person continues raging this war of nonstop verbal assaults…wait a minute! Instinct tells you to defend yourself. Defend against what? Welcome to “Life Course 101” dealing with a person having a BAD day. Really!
Contemplating a good defense strategy includes asking a few questions. First, could this make matters better or worse? Did I say something that could have been taken offensively? Did I overstep my boundaries? Did I use the wrong tone or body language? Is this a simple misunderstanding? If not, then why is this person blowing up at me?
For the sake of an argument, how could you handle the situation with grace and dignity? Here’s a few simple steps:
· Before responding, take a deep breath and count to ten
· Stay calm. Overreacting only escalates the problem. If you desire a positive outcome, engaging in argument never helps
· Listen attentively as the person vents. Nod occasionally to let them know you are still listening. Keep a relaxed non-threatening posture.
· Show no emotion with your facial expressions. No matter what they are saying, do not allow it to get to you.
· When the person has exhausted from the verbal assault, then it is your turn to speak. Speak calmly. Apologize for any misunderstandings. Repeat what you heard and understood the person to say.
· Remember the purpose of this interaction: job related, family issue, to gain or maintain a friendship. The desire of a win-win situation…the most positive outcome for all parties involved.
· Always give the benefit of the doubt. Take advantage of the opportunity to bring clarity. Maybe the person is having a bad day. The person may not even be angry with you. It could be a prior situation or an accumulation of bad outcomes. Sometimes people need validation or just to vent. Anyway, keep your responses short and simple. No pointing fingers or blaming. Some scenarios require an “agree to disagree” explanation.
· If these steps fail to remedy the situation and the person continues to argue; then, kindly excuse yourself. Walk away. Someone with a made-up mind to take an obstinate stance to resolution will not change. There is no sense in dragging it out any longer than necessary. Perhaps, a more positive outcome can come about by taking a break from each other. You gave it your best try!
Written by Laura Alexander