As a social being who mingles with others in your daily life, you cannot isolate yourself completely from troubles. Even peace-loving men have to face confrontations sometimes. These are usually caused by misunderstanding and miscommunications with people you meet at work, among your social circles, or even within your family. During these confrontations, emotions run high and exchange of hurting words make the situations worse.
Here are some tips on how to react in these highly charged situations without losing control of your emotions and to resolve problems without causing harm to you or your adversary.
Do not let your emotions rule over you. When trying to settle an issue with someone, you can do it with calm and civility. Avoid confrontations while your emotions are intense and you stop thinking rationally; when you lose your mental and emotional equilibrium. Words that you will regret later are uttered in anger. To prevent these from happening, you should ventilate the negative feelings within you while they are still in manageable level. Discuss the problems with the people concerned while the issues are still small. Do not keep them within you so they do not boil over and result to explosions of emotions later.
Be conscious of your emotions. Anger does not explode spontaneously. Like a volcano, it gives warning and shows signs of the impending explosion. Your body shifts to fight or flight mode. There is that urge to retaliate or step back. You begin to tremble and your breathing becomes shallow and faster. To disregard or deny these warning signs can be disastrous.
Once you feel them, take deliberate deep breaths and drink a glass of water. By being aware of them, you can feel and notice every emotion you have. You will have the power and capability to see them as an outsider. You can convince yourself that you are NOT angry; rather, you are feeling the emotion of anger – and this makes a huge difference. Anger is blind rage itself, but feeling the emotion of anger makes it a remote and controllable sensation. You can also apply the same technique with other negative sensations like guilt, shame, resentment, etc. Try not to be under their control. Rather, treat them as mere feelings of these emotions, not the emotions themselves.
Consider the feeling of the other person. By trying to analyze how the other party feels will quickly dissipate the animosity towards each other. This is not actually giving in (if you honestly believe you are right). You may agree with the other’s feelings, not his opinions.
You allow time and space to evaluate the issue. You can say, “hmmm, I have not really seen it that way before”; or “Yes, I can understand how that made you feel outraged”.
Similar words like these may immediately cool both of you down. Once you dissolve the anger, you can now think with calm and clearer minds, not blinded by anger or any emotions.
Look for deeper reason. Do not face confrontations by raising voice immediately. This may place you in an embarrassing position for over-reacting. Someone does not just confront others without reason. It could be to release suppressed energy, ventilate pent-up emotions, express feelings, etc. Whatever the reason, for the other person, it is always to achieve a positive result from the confrontation. Do not choose destructive reaction to meet such positive intention from him. Instead, try to analyze what positive results does he intend to get from confronting you. In many cases, you immediately make false assumptions on others’ behaviours that make you react wrongly. This compounds the problem.
It may not be always easy to identify the positive intention of a person. The best way to know this is to ask him what he hopes to gain from confronting you. Knowing his intentions is a big step towards ending the conflict.
Forget the issue of who is right. Once you have disarmed the other person’s negative emotions, you can now discuss the solution to the problem. Forget the issue of who is right. Opening this issue will just amplify negativity. Focus on the long-term repercussion of the solution (usually a half-way compromise) on its effect on the relationship.
It is impossible to please everybody. Sometimes, despite all your efforts, things may not turn well for all. Such outcome is inevitable especially when many people are involved. Do not feel bad about it. Instead congratulate yourself. As long as you acknowledge your limitations and have done your best, it is good to appreciate your effort. Change your mindset from “I failed” to “I did my best”.
Sometimes, the problem is not yours because you have no control over other people’s reaction. Do not allow anger or any negative feeling control you. Simply be satisfied that you have done everything within your power and keep your integrity intact.
Letting your emotions get the better of you is the worst attitude you can have when facing a conflict with someone. Besides making matters worse, it also makes you regret later for failing to act in a manner that an intelligent and rational individual like you should.
In this coming season, let there be peace to all men of goodwill.