You know the feeling. You’re in the middle of a conversation with someone – your spouse, friend, or co-worker – when the person says something that offends you or makes you angry.
You feel your blood temperature start to rise. And what we do in that moment can mean the difference between a productive conversation and a full-on heated confrontation or argument.
In most cases, lashing back defensively would be like pouring gasoline on a fire. But if your response is calm and intentional, you can literally change the course of the conversation into a productive exchange where you feel heard and understood and feel a greater sense of compassion. Here is one simple action to stay calm during difficult conversations.
First, notice when your anger slowly starts to build. It’s in that isolated moment that you pause and freeze. Then take one to three slow breaths. Or count backward from 5 to 1, described as the 5 Second Rule.
This one simple action cuts off the brain’s fight-or-flight reaction. Because when we feel attacked verbally, the brain reacts the same as if there is a gun pointed at us and we immediately dive into a “fight-or-flight” state. And it’s in this state when we’re likely to blurt out things we might later regret.
When you “freeze and breathe,” you automatically calm down. You can think more rationally and intentionally choose what you say and do next. The more you practice simply noticing yourself becoming angry or upset, the easier it will become to remain calm instead of reacting emotionally.
Over time, you can actually change the way your brain responds to such emotional triggers in the future. And it can literally save your most important relationships.
To find out how strategic coaching can help you communicate more powerfully, persuasively, and effectively in your personal and family relationships, click here or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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