I’ve been asked to give a few short presentations in a couple weeks at my workplace about Diffusing Emotional Situations. So I decided to write out some ideas here first.
It can be really tough to deal with a emotional person in a workplace, or anywhere else. For the presentations I will focus most on diffusing anger, although intense sadness and fear can come into play in certain situations too.
When you are faced with an angry person, you do have options. And that is also one of the most important things to remember for diffusing emotions: providing an emotional person with options. When a person feels stuck in a situation (no options), emotions can often intensify to the point that reasoning is severly decreased.
So here are a few tips on diffusing anger:
Speak somewhat slower than the other person.
Talk with an even tone, which means keeping your volume and inflections in the average range.
“Listen with your eyes”. Using good eye contact lets the person know you are listening.
Focus more on either the situation or the person, depending on which seems better in bringing down the anger levels or intensity.
Act matter-of-fact and boring. It’s tough to stay angry with a boring person in front of you.
Provide options. You will probably be the more rational one in the situation, so you have the better chance at presenting an option the other person didn’t consider.
Emphasize the fact that you want to help.
General statements like, “That’s tough” , or “That’s no fun”.
Try to get on the same side by using “we” instead of “I” or “you”. (Example: “Okay, how are we going to figure this one out?”)
Take time afterward to de-stress, relax, do some deep breathing, or whatever works for you. Dealing with strong emotions isn’t easy, and your body and mind need time to come down from the experience and readjust.
Remember: there are always options. Take care everyone!