Then a flash of reality streaks across your brain. What have I done??? Why did I say that??
OMG I don’t want to think about the backlash!
These moments can reek havoc in our homes, on the job, in our relationships or as we are negotiating important contracts or agreements. Unfiltered angry words are actually part of the Seven Deadly Sins, actions and behaviors that we should all resist during our journey in life.
Easier said than done you say. Well, with some practice and advance planning you can prepare for combatting these difficult situations with diplomacy and tact. Skill and confidence. Serenity and courage. The combination creating a systematic manner of managing your anger so that it does not turn into verbal rage.
Here’s a simple three step process that will help you channel your energy in the right direction the next time your blood boils and you just want to lash out with an unfiltered response.
Stop. Think. Then Speak
- Stop and let the dust settle. Take stock of entire situation and create some space between you and your antagonist. Silence is your friend! Use it to let the atmosphere quiet until cooler heads can prevail. I have used this technique and have found it to be quite effective, while possibly throwing your adversary off balance.
- Think about the circumstances you face. Is a harsh response worth disrupting or losing your job? Or unsettling your household? Or ending a lifelong friendship? Or causing dissension with those who trust and respect you? In these situations, I always ask myself these four powerful words, “Is it worth it?” Review the words that were spoken to you and begin rehearsing a meaningful and thought-provoking response that will minimize collateral damage for you and your antagonist.
- Speak and “Take The High Ground!” Those words ring in my head, my heart and my spirit. They are the words my late mother taught me many years ago as a protective mechanism against life’s little cruelties. Take the high ground and choose words meant to bring clarity to a tough situation. If your antagonist blurts out, “You are unfair and totally unqualified for your job! I wish we had a different person leading this team!” assess the accusation, taking time to think about your response, and then measuredly speak in an even tone. Your very body posture and your words can make a huge difference between a negotiated truce and the eruption of World War III. Perhaps you could say, “Marjorie, I understand that you are upset right now and are questioning the decisions I have made. Let’s walk through X, Y, and Z to determine what is making you so angry.” This language pushes the attack back on the antagonist who is then expected to defend the charges made. It’s a method to help you control and manage the situation. It will also require that your antagonist step back and examine the words they have chosen in the attack. By you using deliberate words that avoids profanity, you’re demonstrating maturity and credibility from a leadership perspective.
Words matter! Tone of voice matters! Body language matters! Used correctly, they can signal a powerful message that you understand the anger, but you won’t participate in a shouting match.
Think about this from a proactive perspective. You are going to get get angry sometime in the near future. Preparing for your reaction is how you can control the situation as best as you can.
Three simple actions can work in your favor and diffuse a difficult situation. Stop. Think, Then Speak.
It’s a strategy I have often used, and I encourage you to try it in the future. It will also help you sleep at night when the going gets tough.
-Carole Copeland Thomas