In a world laced with division and conflict, how can we communicate in the face of conflict?

We must realize this:

No productive conversation can happen when someone is yelling.

The objective should be to have a dialogue.

Dialogue can only happen if both people feel safe.

When someone is yelling, they don’t feel safe.

You need to understand WHY they don’t feel safe to be able to react appropriately.

Here Are A Few Reasons WHY It’s Happening:

1. There is a gap between expectations or your opinions vary

2. They feel threatened emotionally, physically, or psychologically

3. Emotions are running strong and they can’t control them

4. They feel disrespected

5. They are projecting their issues onto you from other experiences

When someone is yelling, the stakes are high.

The situation is referred to as a “Crucial Confrontation,” which is a version of a “Crucial Conversation.”

How YOU REACT makes THE DIFFERENCE in this situation.

Immediately you’ll be tempted to react emotionally and defensively because you’re being attacked.

Stay calm.

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Remember, nothing productive can happen when you react aggressively.

Who Is This Person To You? 

Context Is Important:

· Is this someone you know well?

· Is this an angry stranger who you cut off in traffic?

· Do you wish to maintain a relationship with this person?

Knowing the context, you’ll need to decide the OUTCOME you want:

“What do I want out of this interaction? What don’t I want to happen?”

Deep down you may want the issue to be resolved peacefully, and to maintain a loving relationship with this person.

Often, emotions cloud our view, and we don’t articulate what we want.

It sounds simple, but your behavior needs to reflect outcome you want to produce.

How To Bring Someone To Safety:

Photo by Joey Pilgrim on Unsplash

1. Empathize with them and validate their feelings

Ask: “Why would a reasonable person act the way they are right now?”

Put effort into understanding their point of view. Even if you don’t agree, you need to validate what they feel is real. Everyone’s feelings ARE their own reality.

“I can see how you feel that way. I would feel that way too if ________.”

2. Paraphrase

Be a good active listener. Once you’ve put on your empathy hat, paraphrase in a calm way what you heard them say. It highlights what you understand and demonstrates that you’re hearing them.

Utilize neutral language:

“If I understand you correctly…”

“What concerns you most is…”

“It sounds like you feel…”

3. Use a contrasting statement

The best way to bring about the result you want (and don’t want) is to state it explicitly.

“I don’t want you to think that my intent was to disrespect you. What I do want is for us to come to agreement about how we can get past this disagreement and ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

4. State the facts

We often tell ourselves stories about others’ intent behind their actions.

If someone is yelling at you they are telling themselves a story that is emotionally charged about your intent.

Stick to the facts and state them clearly.

Help them see what’s true and enable them to re-evaluate their story.

When you stick to facts rather than judgments, opinions, or assumptions, you increase the chance of making someone feel safe.

5. Take responsibility for your actions

If you were wrong, apologize. The easiest way to disarm someone is to agree with him or her and take your part of the blame.

6. Tell your story

It can be helpful to tell someone about your intent, or the story that’s going on in your head.

That opens an opportunity for you to add to the pool of shared meaning.

It allows them to empathize with you and understand why you acted the way you did.

7. Encourage them to add to the pool of shared meaning

The Pool of Shared Meaning is the thoughts, feelings, and experiences that people share. Successful dialogue results when everyone feels safe to add his or her meaning to the shared pool.

“Can you elaborate why you feel that way?”

8. Use “Yes, AND” instead of “BUT”

A classic rule I learned in improv comedy – use “yes, and” instead of “but.”

When you use “but” it implies everything I say after this word is more important than what I’ve said. When you use “but” you’re more liable to make the person feel defensive.

Using “Yes, and,” shows that you respect the person and their opinion, and you’re building on what they’ve said rather than detracting from it.

9. Use “I” instead of “YOU” statements

“I” statements allow you to talk from your own perspective and feelings without blaming, judging, or accusing another person.

I feel offended,” vs. “You offended me!”

10. Don’t get caught up in the content

Things might get personal. Don’t take what they say personally. Worry about re-establishing mutual purpose and respect so you can get to a place to discuss the content safety.

**Important: Know when to give up**

Some people won’t calm down no matter what you do. You have to be able to be the bigger person.

If you can’t get to a place of safety either establish a time to come back and discuss when emotions are settled, or give them the victory and walk away.