Hate Confrontation? Seven Steps To De-escalate A Tricky Situation — With A Customer, A Colleague Or Even Your Boss

You may hate confrontation. Someone raising his or her voice may make you want to run and hide. And it certainly seems safer to freeze into nothing and wait till the situation burns itself out. But sometimes that's just not an option. So here's the plan you can prepare in advance so you'll know step by step what to do to be able to salvage most situations — and you may even come out looking like a hero.

Here are the steps you need to take next time someone appears to have lost emotional control and verbally attacks you. You can take these steps even if you feel like you're a deer in the headlights.

  1. Take a deep breath yourself and calmly look directly at your accuser.

  2. Say his or her name aloud and if you understand what she is upset about restate it. E.g. "Jim, you seem (angry, worried) because the package hasn't arrived yet. Is that right?" Or

  3. Say his or her name and asked for a clarification. E.g. "Jim you seem (angry, worried) but I'm not quite sure I understand why. I think it's something about the package. Can you tell me what the problem is?"

  4. Once you do understand, restate the problem just as in step number two and ask if you have it right.

  5. Sympathize with a hard time the person is having. "I'm sorry it's so frustrating for you either done everything right and it's still not working" or
    Empathize: "Wow that happened to me, I'd be (angry, worried) too."

You may be finished at this point in the other person has calmed down and is ready for problem solving, or you may need to take another step. This step is necessary if you are in a position to help solve the problem.

  1. Offer to help or at least to do something that is within your power to ease the situation. E.g. "What would you like me to do to help?"

  2. Either take the requested action or offer a substitute.

By this time you've almost always a achieve your objective.

These steps work because they help someone who's lost emotional control to slowly calm him or her self with your help. Often all that's needed is to help someone who is upset feel seen heard and understood.

That person will be grateful to you for your help and you'll learn that the monster behind the raised voice is really just a frustrated or confused real person.

 Many of the lessons in The Integrity Course discuss practical ways  to identify and resolve conflict.
 

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This entry was posted in Anger, Business Communication, Coaching, Conflict, Difficult Communication, Emotional Intelligence, Managing Conflict, Managing Fear, Self-Management and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Hate Confrontation? Seven Steps To De-escalate A Tricky Situation — With A Customer, A Colleague Or Even Your Boss

  1. LAKSHMANAN.B says:

    I had such a situation in my college with my friends, but I did not follow these techniques. There was a quarrel between us.
    if I had such techniques,I would have avoided the quarrel.

  2. ajay says:

    these steps are really helpful to every one, and its practical too. It will really help me to face such situations.

  3. lakshmanan says:

    very nice tips to tackle difficult situations

  4. MANIMEGALAI.S says:

    Dear Madam,
    Your tips are practically true. They were useful to me also. Thank you. I have described below the situation where I applied your tips recently.
    One day in my class, we, the day scholars decided to bring lunch for the hostellers. The next morning, I asked my mom to prepare lunch for the hostellers. Suddenly she shouted at me saying that she could not prepare lunch for anyone and for me also. I wondered because, she do not discourage this type of activities. I said to myself that there must be some other reason behind this.
    My mother usually gets compromised if I prepare tea for her. When I entered the kitchen to prepare tea, I came to know that there was no milk. At that time I guessed that because there was no tea, she was in mood out. So I went to buy tea for her. When I came back, she was preparing lunch. But she looked angry.
    I went to her and gave the tea and said that she should not get angry because of tea. She had the tea and she became half cool… then she said that she was not angry for tea. I surprised and asked what the reason was then. She said that she is angry as I don’t have my lunch the day before.
    Then I promised her saying that I would have food at proper Tim, there after. Then she became calm

  5. ajay says:

    hai, I’m a management student, I find this article really helpful.

  6. Ajay says:

    Excellent, it helped me very much.

  7. lakshmanan says:

    THIS IS VERY USEFULL FOR MY LIFE AS WELL AS FOR MY STUDIES.
    WHEN I WAS STUDYING IN MY COLLEGE I HAD SUCH A CONFLICTING SITUATION.

    I HAD TO FIGHT WITH MY FRIEND FOR NOT GIVING MY BOOK BACK. I DID NOT UNDERSTAND HIS SITUATION FOR AS I LACKED THIS KIND OF TECHNIQUES.
    FINALY OUR FRIENDSHIP WAS BROKEN, AND WE BECAME ENEMIES

  8. manas says:

    I have found the steps mentioned here as very helpful and it as personally helped me a great deal in confronting with angry people.

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