Our emotions are often triggered during difficult conversations and yet these conversations are unavoidable. We bring in our emotions into every interaction and they also change during the engagement. These powerful sensations if not managed appropriately can cause havoc leading to verbal attacks and damaged relationships. Verbal attacks express negative feelings like anger, contempt and blame and can vary from accusations, name-calling, to sarcasm.
It is important that we do not let our emotions derail our conversation clouding our judgement and what we seek to achieve. In the heat of a difficult conversation most of us have said things we later regret however keeping calm in a conversation is a skill which can be learnt.
He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive. (Proverbs 17:27-28 NKJV)
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. (Proverbs 16:32 ESV)
Here are a few suggestions to assist to remain calm during a conversation and not allow emotions to spoil our conversations
- Acknowledge and label your feelings
By identifying our feelings, we not only deepen our self-awareness but also help to calm ourselves down. When we can identify our emotions, acknowledge them, and label them correctly it becomes much easier to manage them.
When we notice our emotions are running high, taking slow deep breaths will help us relax and calm down. Take deep breaths between sentences.
- Take a break from the conversation
Stop to think about the situation and conversation. The more time we give ourselves to process our emotions, the less overpowering they are likely to be. So, when our conversations get heated up, we may need to excuse ourselves for a moment rather than continuing with the conversation which can potentially evolve into a conflict. If emotions are running high, take a break it will give you an opportunity to think through and reflect on the conversation.
- Silence and seeking to understand
Listening and asking questions helps to clarify issues and provide an opportunity to pause, breathe and gather thoughts, respond appropriately. Listening helps to better connect and understand what is being said. It’s okay to pause and be silent in a conversation, it also helps to choose words carefully because we have given thought to what we want to say.
Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry. (James 1:19 AMPC)
A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart (Proverbs 18:2 NKJV)
Be kind to yourself and to others. Seek to understand others and acknowledge that we don’t see the world in the same way. Actively listen and not just wait for a chance to respond.