Emotions During a Difficult Conversation

It’s hard not to get worked up emotionally when you’re in a tense conversation: a disagreement can feel like a threat.

But if your body goes into “fight or flight” mode,  you may lose access to the part of your brain responsible for rational thinking.

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How to Control Your Emotions During a Difficult Conversation

hbr.org

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Sitting still when you’re having a difficult conversation can make the emotions build up rather than dissipate. 

Standing up and walking around helps to activate the thinking part of your brain.

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The more time you give yourself to process your emotions, the less intense they are likely to be.

Excuse yourself for a moment: get a cup of coffee or a glass of water, go to the bathroom or take a stroll. Don't give the impression that you are desperately trying to escape.

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When you start noticing yourself getting tense, try to focus on breathing (on feeling the air coming in and out of your lungs).

This will take your attention off the physical signs of panic and keep you centered.

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To distance yourself from the feeling, label it.

This allows you to see your thoughts and feelings for what they are, and not bury them or let them explode.

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Come up with a phrase that you can repeat to yourself to remind you to stay calm.

Some examples: “This isn’t about me,” “This will pass,” or “This is about the business.”

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Lean into the conversation from a place of curiosity and respect (for yourself and the other person). 

Even when the subject of the conversation is difficult, the interaction can remain mutually supportive. Respect the other person’s point of view, and expect them to respect yours.

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