How to Get Results With People When Things Are Tense
When things are tense and when an issue needs resolving between people, it's very easy to inadvertently 'push the wrong buttons', and make things worse.
One moment you're trying to work through a problem with someone, and the next moment they're all up and defensive or angry or being impossible.
As you'll see, there's a very simple, very effective way to avoid that.
Here's an example of how things can go awry:
The other day, a friend sent me a message to call me out on something. I had promised I would do a thing, but then life got in the way and I didn't do it, and I didn't update him on it.
And so he had a right to be upset, and he was completely justified in calling me out.
But he was upset, and in the exchange, he ended up calling me names - nothing serious, but it was not necessary, you know?
So while he was working towards a solution, he actually got the opposite of what he wanted: It turned into a bit of a standoff, and it became a 'thing' that had to be resolved, and it was no longer a simple matter of "When can you get it done, Martin?".
In the end it was resolved and everything is fine, but he could have gotten completely different result if he had used this one little trick:
Instead of telling me that he feels I'm this or that, he could have said:
“I feel really angry right now”
Or “I'm really frustrated”, (or annoyed upset, or what have you).
When you do that - when you label your own emotions - you're making a me-statement, which means there's far less risk that the other person feels offended, upset, or attacked, and so you don't trigger any negative response.
Because you're making it about yourself, pointing at your own state and experience, and then the other person is invited to consider your point of view.
And that is a very open, very friendly way to move through conflict or standoff or anything that needs to be resolved.
Very often we get this wrong.
Instead of putting the situation on the table and saying “This is how I feel about things”, we end up inadvertently making the other person feel attacked, or hurt, or defensive.
But the simple, powerful solution that nearly always creates a breakthrough in a conversation of any kind?
Label your emotions. Whenever a situation is tense and you are all worked up: lead by telling the other person about it.
(Note: another very common reason why communication often doesn't work out, is because we often try and trade in incompatible currencies.)
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