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Impose a cool-down period to rein in runaway emotions

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in Workplace Communication,Workplace Conflict

Emotions often work against you when you try to resolve conflict. If you’re too close to the situation, you may become embroiled in it and lose your perspective.

The best problem-solvers cool down before taking action. They do not talk without thinking. They avoid impulsiveness.

Instead, they seek to understand and assess all sides of a conflict. This calm analysis, conducted in private, allows them to identify a menu of alternatives that they can take to repair damage and reach an amicable resolution.

To control your emotions, know when to end a conversation. If you feel trapped in a heated argument, look for the first opportunity to shut down the debate. Suggest another time to talk. Insist that you cannot concentrate because you have pressing business vying for your attention. Say that you prefer to gather facts relating to the conflict or review options before you resume the discussion.

Severing your involvement in an escalating argument sounds sensible enough. But when you’re immersed in it, emotions may trump your reason. A part of you may actually want to unleash your fury—and pelt an adversary with your angry outburst. That’s particularly true if you have a temper and you’re comfortable expressing it.

To impose emotional control, look at the clock. Say to yourself, “It’s 3:15. For the next hour, I will not think about this conflict. At 4:15, I’ll revisit the situation when I’ve calmed down.”

By allotting a specific amount of time to disengage from the problem, you force yourself to regroup mentally and put some distance between your fiery emotions and your levelheaded judgment. For non-urgent conflicts, give yourself as much time as you can to set aside hard feelings and replace them with more positive or pleasing stimuli.

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