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.

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.

Leave a Reply