You can keep from angering others, hurting their feelings or drawing a defensive action from them simply by watching how you respond. Keep situations from escalating by using these phrases during heated moments:
1. “Please help me understand …” Don’t make assumptions or accusations or point fingers. Instead, invite the other person to explain the situation so that you gain a full understanding of the circumstances—before you respond.
2. “I realize that you intended [something positive], but here is what happened …” Using that phrase typically prevents a defensive reaction because you acknowledge the other person’s good intentions, while explaining what needs to change going forward.
3. “What I like about this is …” Even when you need to provide negative feedback, you can almost always find something positive to say about people’s work. Explaining to them what they did well first proves that you are evaluating their work fairly and not just focusing on the negatives.
— Adapted from “4 Messaging Techniques to Help Defuse Workplace Drama,” Jeff Giesea, Entrepreneur, www.entrepreneur.com.