As you might already know, it’s quite easy to let what started out as a civil conversation turn nasty.
In fact, we often have to consciously monitor our words and tone to ensure the exchange doesn’t spiral out of control. Many conversations do contain opposing viewpoints because, naturally, we all don’t agree on everything.
Here are four surefire ways to turn a healthy debate into an all-out donnybrook:
1. Tell people why they did something. Saying “You did that because you’re angry I got the promotion” or “You must have trust issues” is sure to heat things up.
2. Explain how they should feel. Send things into overdrive with statements, such as “You shouldn’t be upset about this” or “You should be happy about this.”
3. Dig up the past. Go ahead and home in on something they have no power to change, and force them to defend their past actions. Talk about why they did what they did and what they should have done instead, and beat it into their head how wrong they were. This technique lets you lock them into an argument with no way out.
4. Exit the conversation abruptly. Just as the conversation hits a boiling point, say something like “You are so difficult; I can’t talk to you.” Then walk away. That ensures the conflict festers for days to come.
—Adapted from “That Escalated Fast! 5 Ways to Turn a Disagreement into a Full-On Fight,” Guy Harris, Bud to Boss Blog, www.budtoboss.com.