Treat your fiery emotions as a source of strength

It’s easy to say, “Control your emotions.” But it’s almost impossible to do.

Resolving conflict requires that you harness your emotions, even if you don’t necessarily control them entirely. By channeling your feelings in a productive manner, you avoid succumbing to them and exacerbating a confrontation.

In heated moments, you may lose your composure. The intensity of your emotions may trump your more rational concern about protecting your professional image. As a result, you may fling insults or stomp around in an unbridled state of fury.

The repercussions of just 10 seconds of such wild behavior can leave lasting scars. That’s why you’re better off devising a strategy to redirect your negative emotions before they do the most harm. Try these techniques:

Detach and assess. As soon as you begin to experience adverse feelings, disengage from the present turmoil. If possible, physically leave the room or terminate the phone call. If that’s impractical, mentally detach yourself from the proceedings.

Difficult People D

Once you withdraw from the heat of the moment, evaluate the type of emotions you feel. Label them. Assess them without judgment or regret. Like a wine expert analyzing the bouquet of a particular vintage, say to yourself, “I sense a mix of anger and resentment with a touch of embarrassment.”

Narrate what just happened. To disentangle yourself from a nasty conflict, step back and describe how you got there. In a voice that’s calm (or at least not too hostile), say to the other person, “Let me try to understand how we reached this point.” Then summarize what occurred in the minutes leading up to the eruption of conflict without assigning blame.