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When emotions boil over, turn down heat

by on
in Workplace Communication,Workplace Conflict

When someone comes to you charged with emotion over a workplace concern, you need to take a deep breath and avoid getting emotional yourself, Dan Rockwell writes on “BlogHer.”

Resist the urge to automatically solve the problem at hand, which allows the other person to get his way, creating more trouble in the future. Rockwell suggests this alternative approach for an admin who wants to get a heated situation under control:

  1. Acknowledge the emotions and be sure not to belittle them.
  2. Explore the values behind the emotions. Emotions tend to spring from issues that mean a lot to people.
  3. Ask “What do you want?” be­­cause emotions can eclipse the problem that caused them in the first place.
  4. Inquire “What could you do to get what you want?”
  5. Take a break to allow emotions to defuse before moving forward toward a solution.
  6. Step back and give everyone some physical space while avoiding threatening postures.
  7. Speak in a lower voice and use a softer tone.
  8. Invite her to sit next to you—not across—to talk it over.
  9. Walk slowly as you talk, if you remain standing.
  10. Try a mental step back to look at the big picture and try to get beyond “sides.”
  11. Resist pressure to make a quick decision.
  12. Follow up if you postpone the conversation. Inaction can breed more intense negative emotions such as bitterness.

— Adapted from “Succeeding in Emotionally Charged Situations,” Dan Rockwell, “BlogHer.”

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