The Art of Remaining Calm During an Intense Discussion or Confrontation


Most people would agree that confrontation of any kind is uncomfortable. It can get awkward, emotional, out of control and sometimes downright offensive…and fast. In fact, there are times when confrontation isn’t necessary, when it won’t change the outcome of your circumstances, when there isn’t much opportunity for personal growth or gain and when it’s simply more important to preserve and protect your emotional energy and inner peace. There are other times, however, in which confrontation is necessary in establishing healthy boundaries, in resolving problems within relationships and in developing a stronger sense of self, esteem and self worth…In times when confrontation is important and necessary, the ability to remain calm and clear-headed is a key factor in achieving the most desirable and positive outcome.

Ask yourself: Is It Worth It?

While some are unavoidable, many times you have a choice in whether or not to engage in a confrontation or intense discussion. Before you dive in head first, consider the purpose and consider the gain. Ask yourself this: Is this worth my emotional energy? Is this important for my self esteem or self worth, the health of my relationship, expression of my needs or in establishing necessary boundaries? If the process or outcome is important for your own personal growth and not simply as a means to prove a point, let off steam or get back at someone, then it is certainly worth taking the plunge.

Take Deep Breaths

Taking deep breaths (deep inhales and long, slow exhales) can help to keep your brain and body calm when emotions rise. Deep breathing can actually have an impact on the physiological response of stress and anxiety (which are likely to occur during a heated conversation) and can slow heart rate, ease muscle tension and reduce negative thinking. Breathe, breathe, breathe and breathe some more.

Monitor Your Tone and Volume

Tone and volume can quickly and easily intensify and will, without a doubt, result in a heightened emotional state or dysregulation. Monitoring and managing your tone and voice volume is key in helping keep you (and potentially others) calm throughout an intense discussion or confrontation.

Practice Pause

Allowing yourself think time throughout a heated discussion is an effective strategy for keeping your cool. Not only does “practicing pause” or pausing before you speak, help you remain calm during a conflict or confrontation, but it also can help you to more clearly articulate your thoughts and feelings about a situation. In addition, practicing pause can help to balance in the conversation, which will make it feel more fair for all parties involved.

Listen To Understand, Not To Respond

Avoid thinking about what you plan to say next or that what is being said is impacting how you are feeling (ex. I am so mad she just said that, how presumptuous!). This type of thinking and self talk will only heighten your emotions and impact your ability to understand the other person’s perspective-Which may be key in identifying a viable solution and coming to a common understanding.

Start with a resolution or preferred outcome in mind…But be flexible!

While it is important to be prepared with a couple of potential agreeable solutions to the problem for a more solution-focused approach, it is important to also be prepared that the conversation may not go as planned and that you may not receive the response, resolution or reaction you hoped for. Remember, resolution (immediate or otherwise) isn’t always the goal. Sometimes the process itself that is the most beneficial and rewarding.

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