Everyone has been there: You’re standing in the doorway, trying to decide whether or not you should leave the room. A person close to you, such as a spouse, a partner, boss, coworker, or a family member, has completely lost control of their emotions and is screaming at the top of their lungs. In that moment, every second feels more uncomfortable than the last. In such a stressful situation, it’s hard to know how to react For many of us, our first instinct is to scream back, get emotional, lose our tempers; or just leave the situation without resolving it. Luckily, psychologists have provided us with much better solutions for dealing with conflict and uncomfortable situations. In the following slideshow, clinical psychologist [Dr. Albert J. Bernstein] shows us how to deal with these occurrences by calming the other person down, disengaging from emotions and hysteria, offering new solutions, and changing the overall tone of the conversation. I’ve learned that #6 is particularly effective. : http://www.amazon.com/Albert-J.-Bernstein/e/B001KHH9JW/?_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&linkCode=ur2&tag=spacforrent-20&linkId=UWJZVEK5LAVQJWLTIt’s simple, really: The only thing worse than one person losing it is two people losing it. If both parties in an argument are unable to separate their emotions from the discussion, then the situation is more likely to amplify and remain unresolved. Instead, try to remain calm and collected, even while the other person is expressing anger. This way, you have more of a chance of calming the other person down. Once you’re both on steady ground, you can move forward with the discussion. Deep breathing and meditation are great ways to calm down, but the best advice might be some that your mother has given you: Close your eyes and count to ten. Bonus points if you can get the other person to do the same.
No, psychologists do not recommend standing over someone, patting them on the head, and using baby talk to address them (even though it would probably be wickedly satisfying). But think about it: You wouldn’t scream at a child who was losing their temper, so why should an adult be any different? Bernstein explains: “People say to me all the time, ‘You mean I have to treat a grown-up like a three-year-old? I say, “Yes, absolutely. If you’re a parent, what do you do with a tantrum? You ignore it, or at least try to ignore it. But with an adult you try and talk them out of it and it never works.”
When a person won’t stop screaming, it’s difficult to resist the urge to tell them, well, stop. However, telling an enraged person to “stop screaming” might actually do more harm then good: When you’re angry, do you like to be told what to do? Instead of stoking the flames with a command, try to politely ask the other person to slow the pace of their speaking, by asking them to “please speak more slowly” or “please slow down so I can understand what you’re trying to say.” Slowing the conversation down inevitably leads to a calmer environment. If the person is receptive, you can then follow up by asking them what you can do to help. This creates an environment of discourse rather than one of conflict.
This step operates in tandem with step #3. Once all is calm, there has to be a way to push the conversation forward, and preferably one that doesn’t cause another spike in conflict. “When people are angry at you or attacking you,” Bernstein said, “It’s very easy to fight back or run away. What you really need to do is something that engages their brain.” When you ask someone “What would you like me to do,” it’s beneficial to the conversation in two ways. First, it helps start negotiations. It also helps affirm that you’re interested in the other person’s point of view, which can help the emotional party feel validated and ready to move forward.
During conflict, nothing can be more angering than getting the impression that someone is trying to explain something to you. While that might seem irrational, “explaining” something to someone, can be seen as fighting back. In some cases, it can even be seen as a passive aggressive way of saying that you’re right and the other person is wrong. “Most explanations will be heard as ‘See here, if you really understand the situation, you will see that I am right and you are wrong’” Bernstein says. “That is an attack and it’s also one of the ways we achieve dominance over other people.” Instead, try posing any statement you have as a question. For example, instead of saying “I’m not this way, because…” try asking “Why do you think I am this way?”
If you’ve gotten this far and both you and your counterpart are having a rational, mellow conversation, don’t sabotage it by accusing them of any malfeasance. People will be very reactive to any form of accusation at this stage in the discussion, so doing so will ultimately upend your intentions for resolution. “Any sentence that begins with ‘you are’ and does not end with ‘wonderful’ will be experienced as name-calling” says Bernstein. In fact, it’s best to avoid “you” statements as much as possible. Instead, construct statements that focus on yourself and how you can contribute to solving the problem, instead of focusing on what the other person did to cause it.
The last step to handling a difficult conversation is quite possibly the hardest: When all is said and done, how do you really know when to be, well, done? “The last word is usually an attempt to be right,” Bernstein says. “You can undo any positive thing you’ve done by saying one word that sends them back into attack mode.” Though it might feel really great to have the last word in an argument, its not worth it in the end. Examine what you really want to accomplish: Do you want the argument to end, or do you want to be “right?” Letting the other person have the last word can be a powerful tool for ending conflict on the right note, and also shows your strength of character, ability to keep it cool, and let the small stuff pass you by. In the end, even if the other person “feels right,” you’re the one who comes out on top.