How to Prevent Emotional Escalation

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In Brief...

Handling conflict in the workplace can be difficult, especially when a person brings his or her emotions into a discussion. The following tips will help you approach interactions with emotional colleages in a professional, effective manner.

Instructions

The best protection against an emotional outburst by another person is to manage one's own behavior and emotions. Not doing so pulls one into emotional exchanges and gives emotional power to the other person. If the conversation begins to get heated, one should:

  1. Speak in a low tone.
  2. Check one's own emotions.
  3. Be aware of the other person's body language and voice intonations.
  4. Be watchful of one's own nonverbal expressions and body language.
  5. Place both chairs in comparable positions.
  6. Avoid any position of dominance.
  7. Check the tone of voice.
  8. Look the other person in the eyes.
  9. End the conversation if it gets uncomfortable.
  10. Discontinue the conversation if there is a feeling of intimidation or fear.
  11. Discontinue the conversation if there is emotional distress.
  12. Avoid histrionics (dramatic displays).

In a conversation with a difficult person, the goal is to guide the other person to understand a different perspective. Verbal strikes at the other person can repel rather than attract. Unchecked emotions lead to words that are:

  1. Hurtful.
  2. Insulting.
  3. Accusatory.
  4. Otherwise destructive.

Author: Sheri Schmeckpeper

Sheri Schmeckpeper holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Financial Management and Computer Information Systems as well as a Master's degree in Adult Education and Distance Learning. She is a Microsoft Certified Professional and Trainer. Sheri has implemented distance learning programs at three top institutions of higher education, has been a guest speaker on radio, and has presented at local and national training workshops. Her diverse background includes technology, education, interpersonal relations, finance, and management. Sheri has developed and facilitated courses in the areas of instructional technology and online learning, faculty development, communications, finance, and professional development and achievement. She is currently co-founder of the Institute for Instructional Excellence and directs the Center for Excellent Living where she is also a life coach.

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