Going into an interaction that you think is going to be confrontational is incredibly stressful – your heart rate goes up, breathing becomes shallow and palms become sweaty. Your hands turn into fists, your shoulders start to ache and you find yourself looking for the nearest exit.
These interactions happen in all aspects of our lives - your boss did something you don’t agree with, your work mate seems to be taking advantage of you, your partner forgot (again) to let you know they were going to be late. Even speaking to the service manager at the department store when you’re not happy with a product is nerve-wracking.
Maybe you’re never in this situation as you get along with everyone all of the time. Or maybe you actually avoid potential confrontation like the plague :)
But that’s just it – it turns out that often, if we approach a tough situation differently, that the confrontation turns into a conversation, and our anticipatory stress was for nothing. In fact the anticipatory stress means that you care and so use it to your advantage! Here are three tips to make the conversation happen:
Ensure there is time and space for the interaction. If you’re approaching your boss or co-worker about something that is important to you, make a time to chat when neither of you are distracted, take a deep breath and be brave. You often only need to be brave for the first sentence, and then the rest of the conversation follows.
Remain interested and curious in what the other person is saying. The reason I say this is it helps us not to get angry – but saying ‘don’t get angry’ isn’t very helpful! If you’re actually interested in what the other person has to say, then you’re much more likely to resolve the issue through dialogue rather than arguments.
If the situation is escalating and you feel like you’re locking horns, suggest that you each go away and meet another time. If you start to get angry, it’s helpful to remember that your emotional intelligence greatly diminishes – you can recognise this and call a time out. You can only control your own behaviour, so take responsibility and own that.
Make your conversation count this week, Sandra
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