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Psychologists Explain How to Stay Calm In An Argument

“Conflict wreaks havoc on our brains. We are groomed by evolution to protect ourselves whenever we sense a threat. In our (world), we don’t fight like a badger with a coyote, or run away like a rabbit from a fox. But our basic impulse to protect ourselves is automatic and unconscious.” – Diane Musho-Hamilton

Emotional intelligence (“E.I.”) is defined as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” A low E.I. generally leads to an inability to stay calm, resulting in more conflict, while a high E.I. leads to less conflict and an ability to stay calm under pressure

Conflict is an inevitable part of life. Even the coolest, calmest, and the most collected person in the room will experience some degree of interpersonal turmoil at some point. In most cases, people don’t have any control over what happens next.

The only aspect of a conflict we can control is how we react. This isn’t to say that overriding this “automatic and unconscious” process is easy; it’s not.

But we can learn to recognize, acknowledge, and manage our negative emotions. We can override, to some degree, this innate physiological response.

We can learn to stay calm during any conflict, including in the midst of an argument.

HERE’S HOW:

1. TAKE DEEP BREATHS

Why: The ability to remain relaxed and centered during a conflict depends on your ability to de-tense the body. Shallow breathing is the body’s innate response when confronted with stress. Quashing this natural response and practicing deep breathing instead helps the body to remain calm.

How: Deeply inhale through the nose before slowly exhaling through the mouth. Smooth, deep breaths will cease the production of two stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol.

2. CONCENTRATE ON YOUR BODY

Why: Concentrating on any physical sensations that arise in a conflict permits you to mindfully change them. When your focus switches to the body, you can feel the tension, shallow breathing, etc. that accompanies stress.

How: When you notice your body beginning to tense, return your posture to a neutral state by relaxing your shoulders and hands. This open position communicates positivity using body language – and often diffuses conflict.

3. ACTIVELY LISTEN

Why: A person will initiate an argument, or some other kind of conflict, if they feel they’re not being heard. Furthermore, it’s impossible to diffuse a conflict without attentive and active listening.

How: When someone is talking, focus all of your attention on what the person says. Ignore any thoughts of constructing a response. Once the person finishes speaking, you have the necessary information to respond intelligently.

4. ASK OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS

Why: Open-ended questions are invaluable in conflict resolution. First, open-ended questions demonstrate that you are attentively listening. Second, these type of questions show respect for the person by allowing them to articulate their thoughts.

How: Learning to ask open-ended questions can be a bit tricky for some people. The easiest way to avoid asking “Yes” or “No” questions is not to use the words “Do,” “Don’t,” “Did,” and “Didn’t” when asking a question. Instead, use the words “What,” “Why,” “When,” and “How.” Try it now. Notice the difference?

5. KEEP YOUR VOICE DOWN

Why: The easiest way to escalate conflict is raising your voice. On the flip side, one of the easiest ways to diffuse conflict is lowering your voice. Voice level is also linked to blood pressure. When BP reaches a certain point, it becomes more difficult to understand what’s being communicated.

How: The first step is to diffuse the initial anger of the other person. You can’t do this by raising your voice. On the other hand, you can quickly impart a sense of calm by making the conscious decision to lower your voice.

6. AGREE TO DISAGREE

Why: Not every conflict will produce amicable or mutually agreeable results. However, you can avoid deepening the conflict by politely disengaging from the conversation.

How: One law of interpersonal conflict is that it takes two participants. Separating yourself from an argument is appropriate under one of two circumstances: (1) the person becomes increasingly hostile, or (2) the conversation, despite your best efforts, is not going anywhere.

In closing, unless you happen to be a self-awareness guru, you will become angry in an argument at some point. Human beings are emotional creatures – and this ability to feel can be used to either our advantage or our detriment. It’s also important to forgive yourself if you should act in an unbecoming manner. We all do – and anyone who says otherwise is either a fool, a liar, or both.

By following one or more of the six tips given, you will assuredly feel more confident in any conflict. As a result, you’ll use your emotions and self-regulation to your benefit. Doing so, you will gain the trust and confidence of people in your good and even temperament.

To our non-argumentative better selves!

REFERENCES:
HTTP://WWW.NOTEY.COM/@HUBSPOTMKTGBLOG_UNOFFICIAL/EXTERNAL/8558555/HOW-TO-CALM-YOUR-BRAIN-DURING-CONFLICT-INFOGRAPHIC.HTML?UTM_CONTENT=BUFFER8E58E&UTM_MEDIUM=SOCIAL&UTM_SOURCE=PINTEREST.COM&UTM_CAMPAIGN=BUFFER
HTTPS://HBR.ORG/2015/12/CALMING-YOUR-BRAIN-DURING-CONFLICT
HTTPS://WWW.PINTEREST.COM/PIN/324751823116339269/
HTTPS://WWW.PSYCHOLOGYTODAY.COM/BASICS/EMOTIONAL-INTELLIGENCE


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5 Habits That All Emotionally Intelligent People Have In Common

What does it really mean to be emotionally intelligent? Many of us can say we’re in touch with our emotions but how does this translate into a relatable and social intelligence towards ourselves and other people?

The idea is that emotional intelligence is not only recognising and identifying with our own emotions, but also having the capacity to handle other people’s feelings in an empathetic and astute way. This is a crucial way to build long, lasting relationships with those around us while managing our own emotions in a healthy manner.

With this in mind, here are 5 habits that are identifiable with an emotionally intelligent person.

1. They Know Asking For Help Is A Strength Not A Weakness

Emotional intelligence is essentially down to a sense of self-confidence. While many people feel asking for help is a sign of weakness, it’s really just a mindset of insecurity and potential judgement of others.

Someone who possess emotional intelligence knows that they have an understanding of their own strengths and limitations. They understand that while having self-confidence, they realise that they don’t necessarily know everything there is to know and aren’t afraid to admit this. Sourcing information to bridge the information gap and collaborating with others is seen as a strength and a chance to grow as a person rather than a weakness.

2. They Are Able To Deal With Communication Problems In A Calm Way

When we are having communication problems with people—whether loved ones, colleagues or even strangers—it can be frustrating, leading to lashing out or losing our cool. Being able to stay calm and patient when facing communication challenges is a sure sign of emotional intelligence.

The ability to read social cues is key. Calmly being able to redirect or pivot the approach of their message when it clearly isn’t getting across is showing empathy towards the needs of their audience. They care, not only about the message they’re trying to convey, but about other people having a clear understanding.

embrace_failure

 

3. They Are Able To Discuss Conflict Clearly And Objectively

Arguments can bring out the worst in people and bring up difficult emotions. It can cause feelings of frustration, feeling like you’re not being understood and goes against our need to be accepted and always right.

With emotional intelligence comes the need to be understood without being patronising, condescending or angry. It’s the ability to explain a conflict in a clear and objective way. Emotionally intelligent people have self-awareness of their own emotions, they are able to self-manage these emotions, be empathetic towards where other people are coming from in their argument, and be good at handling the others’ emotions too.

4. They Are Able To Deal With Negative Feedback In A Positive Way

While getting negative feedback can bring out our insecurities, emotionally intelligent people are able to deal with it self-confidently without getting defensive.

Focusing on the facts and keeping a level head allows their emotions to stay in check meaning they are more likely to see criticism as growth rather than damage to their self-worth. This isn’t to say emotionally intelligent people don’t experience negative emotions such as frustration when hearing criticism, but they are able to process them quickly and climb out of their own perspective to meet someone else’s.

5. They Are Able To Embrace Failure

Self-confidence is key when it comes to dealing with setbacks. The importance of self-confidence is that it will keep you afloat when life throws you into the deep-end and emotionally intelligent people know this.

Having this self-confidence is how emotionally intelligent people deal with failures. They realise that assessing troubling situations in an objective way without harsh self-judgement and lashing out is paramount to picking themselves up, gaining strength, taking on board what they’ve learnt from the situation and moving on.

Conclusion

Learning more about our emotions and those of others can propel us far in life. Being more stable in our thoughts and perspectives can get us through hard situations and build more lasting relationships with others and ourselves.

Jenny Marchal      Freelance Writer
 


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A Simple Formula for Changing Our Behavior

Peter Bregman     OCTOBER 14, 2015

“Whoa! What are you doing?” I asked aghast.

I had just walked into my daughter’s room as she was working on a science project. Normally, I would have been pleased at such a sight. But this time, her project involved sand. A lot of it. And, while she had put some plastic underneath her work area, it wasn’t nearly enough. The sand was spreading all over our newly renovated floors.

My daughter, who immediately felt my displeasure, began to defend herself. “I used plastic!” she responded angrily.

I responded more angrily, “But the sand is getting all over!”

“Where else am I supposed to do it?” she yelled.

Why won’t she admit when she’s done something wrong? I thought to myself. I felt my fear, projecting into the future: What would her life look like if she couldn’t own her mistakes?

My fear translated into more anger, this time about how important it was for her to admit mistakes, and we spiraled. She said something that felt disrespectful to me and I raised my voice. She devolved into a crying fit.

I wish I could say this never happened before. But my daughter and I were in a dance, one we have, unfortunately, danced before. And it’s predictably painful; we both, inevitably, end up feeling terrible.

This is not just a parenting dance. I often see leaders and managers fall into predictable spirals with their employees. It usually starts with unfulfilled expectations (“what were you thinking?”) and ends in anger, frustration, sadness, and loss of confidence on both sides. Maybe not crying. But the professional equivalent.

I’m always inclined to ask: Why do I react the way I do? The answer is a complicated fusion of reasons including my love for my daughter, my desire to teach her, my low tolerance for messiness, my need to be in control, my longing for her success, and the list goes on.

But it doesn’t really matter.

Because knowing why I act a certain way does not change my behavior. You would think that it would. It should. But it doesn’t.

The question that really matters – the hard question – is how do I change?

First, I need a better way to respond to my daughter. For this, I went to my wife, Eleanor, who is truly a master. I asked her how I should have handled it.

“Sweetie,” she said, role playing me in the conversation with my daughter, “There’s a lot of sand here and we need to clean it up before it destroys the floors, how can I help?”

Simple and effective:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. State what needs to happen
  3. Offer to help

That’s a great way to handle it. Think about any problem you face with someone at work. I don’t suggest you start the conversation with “Sweetie,” but the rest is applicable.

shouting

I watched a manager get angry at a direct report (we’ll call him Fred) for a sloppy, unclear presentation he gave. The manager was right — the presentation was unclear — but the way he responded damaged the employee’s confidence and Fred’s next effort wasn’t much better. Instead, he could have tried this:

“Fred, this presentation made six points instead of one or two. I’m left confused. It needs to be shorter, more to the point, and more professional looking. Would it help if we talk about the point you’re trying to make?”

No frustration. Not even disappointment. Just clarity and support.

Another time, I watched as a CEO got annoyed at his direct reports for presenting plans that were not reflective of the budget commitments they had made. His emotion was understandable. Appropriate, even. But not useful. An alternative might have been:

“Folks, these plans don’t reflect the budget numbers we agreed on. Those numbers are non-negotiable. If you want, you can let me know where you are getting stuck and we can brainstorm solutions.”

Identify the problem. State what needs to happen. Offer to help. Simple, right?

But – and this is the strange part — in my situation, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. As I thought about it, I realized my impediment.

It didn’t feel authentic.

I believe strongly in leading and living with authenticity. And I was angry and worried about my daughter’s future. So responding calmly, in that moment, would represent a disconnect between how I felt and how I acted. That’s inauthentic.

Which is when it hit me: Learning — by definition — will always feel inauthentic.

Practicing a new behavior, showing up in a new way, or acting differently, feels inauthentic. Changing a dance that’s been danced many times before will never feel natural. It will feel awkward, fake, like pretending. The hedge fund manager was angry, the CEO was annoyed. Not expressing those emotions feels fake.

But it’s much smarter, more likely to compassionately teach the people around us, and a better approach to getting them to reverse their ineffective behaviors.

If we want to learn, we need to tolerate the feeling of inauthenticity long enough to integrate the new way of being. Long enough for the new way of being to feel natural. Which, if the new way of being works, happens sooner than you would think.

Yesterday, my daughter was doing homework late at night and I had to ask her to work in the dining room instead of her bedroom because her younger sister needed to go to bed.

But, before I did, I paused. I empathized with the challenges she would feel, being asked to leave her room for her sister. Being asked to do her difficult homework in a place that wasn’t as comfortable.

“Sweetie,” I said, “Your sister needs to go to sleep and we need to move you into the dining room. How can I help?” Identify the problem, state what needs to happen, and offer to help.

It felt weird. Like I was being overly solicitous. Fake.

But it worked.

After I helped her move, she quickly got back to her work.

Then, as I was walking out, I heard her say “Dad?” I paused at the door and looked back at her. “Thanks,” she said, without looking up from her book.

Peter Bregman is CEO of Bregman Partners, a company that strengthens leadership in people and in organizations through programs (including the Bregman Leadership Intensive), coaching, and as a consultant to CEOs and their leadership teams. Best-selling author of 18 Minutes, his most recent book is Four Seconds (February 2015). 

source: hbr.org


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8 Signs Your Ego Is Trying To Sabotage You

The ego can most easily be described as the mask you wear in daily life. The real you, hidden beneath all the layers you have put on, wants to reveal itself, but the ego likes to maintain control at all times. It can’t stand to give up its power over you, and sadly, many people never move beyond the ego’s domain in their lifetime. If you have felt like you’re in a constant war with your own mind, your ego might feel threatened by your higher self.

Here are 8 signs to look out for if you think your ego is trying to sabotage you:

1. You have become very self-destructive.

Thoughts of self-hate regularly enter your brain, and you have turned to compulsive habits such as drinking or smoking. The ego comes from a place of darkness, and to tame it is one of the most difficult tasks a human will face in his or her lifetime. It fears giving up control, so it wants to keep you in a low vibrational state at all times to avoid transparency. So, if you have picked up on destructive habits and demeaning thought patterns about yourself, you can almost be sure the ego is the mastermind behind it all.

2. You feel overly self-conscious around others.

The ego doesn’t always make a grand entrance; sometimes, it likes to take a more subtle approach. Self-destructive habits can also include feeling a lack of self-confidence, but this doesn’t seem as apparent as the former. However, the ego is still likely to blame, because it always wants you to second-guess yourself and rely on things outside your consciousness for contentment. However, once you move into your heart and act on love rather than fear, you will slowly see this behavior dissipate.

3. You find yourself complaining often.

The ego loves to find everything wrong with a situation or person, so it harps on all the atrocities and misfortunes in life on a daily basis. Complaining every once in a while is a part of life, but if you catch yourself seeing the glass half-empty more than you normally would, try to look inside and tell your ego that all is well, and it doesn’t have to worry.

ego

 

4. You point out the negatives in your life before the positives.

Becoming a Negative Nancy can happen without you ever noticing this shift in consciousness, because the ego moves very slyly. It likes to go undetected and work in the background so as not to draw too much attention to itself. Looking at the world negatively reflects your vibration, so if you want to start noticing the positive aspects of life, work on taming the ego and feeding your soul instead.

5. Fights and arguments happen frequently between yourself and others.

Like we’ve said before, the ego doesn’t enjoy being wrong, and gets wounded easily if it doesn’t get its way. If you constantly have to get the last word in and can’t stand for others to be right, your ego is definitely trying to interfere with your life.

6. You judge others harshly.

This sort of goes along with seeing the negative in the world, but judging others is actually just a reflection of yourself. How you see yourself, you will see others, so if you want to start noticing the good in people, you must first realize the positive things about yourself.

7. You find it hard to listen to others without wanting to interrupt.

When the ego rules, it doesn’t know how to meet others halfway. It works using a “my way, or the highway” approach, so allowing others to speak and have the attention on them really scares the ego. It doesn’t take well to giving others the time of day, so if you find it difficult to let other people speak without wanting to interject, your ego is clearly dominating your energy.

8. You seek revenge when others hurt you.

The ego needs to get even when it feels pain, so what does it do? Try to destroy others, of course. It survives by tearing you down and tearing others down, so to stay alive, it must always hurt others. The Ego feeds off pain and destruction, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily bad. You must learn to use it for good and not evil, just like a superhero would do. They all have incredible powers, but must use them wisely for the benefit of themselves and humanity as a whole.


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9 Ways To Avoid Killer Stress

BY MARGARET PAUL   AUGUST 7, 2014 

Since stress is a killer, it’s vitally important to practice the following healthy ways of avoiding stress in your life, and of managing stress in loving ways.

Stress activates the fight or flight mechanism, where the blood that’s normally in your brain, organs and immune system is directed into the arms and legs, readying you to fight or flee. Chronic stress keeps the body in this state, which eventually has a major effect on the ability of your immune system to keep you healthy.

Here are some tips to manage stress:

1. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Self-judgment causes much stress. It’s easy for many of us to blame outside situations for our stress, such as others’ rude, blaming or angry behavior, or things not going our way. But the truth is that most stress is caused by how we treat ourselves. If you start to notice what stresses you, you’ll discover that judging yourself is a major cause of anxiety and stress.

Try practicing being compassionate toward yourself for being human, rather than judging yourself or others for mistakes or failures, or for others’ rejecting behavior toward you.

2. Lovingly let an argument go until you can come back to the conflict when you’re in a calmer place.

Being around angry, blaming and controlling people is stressful, but are you exacerbating the stress by arguing, defending or explaining yourself, or attacking back? This only serves to cause more stress. When you can, it’s far better to disengage from a fight or argument and come back to it when both of you are calm.

When you lovingly disengage, you are walking away to take care of yourself — not to punish the other person (which would actually cause more stress).

3. Don’t be addicted to worrying!

Do you believe that, somehow, worrying will give you control over bad things not happening? For many, this is a major false belief that causes much stress. Instead, practice developing your faith that you are always being supported in the highest good of your soul’s journey.

4. Practice mindful breathing instead of shallow breathing.

Learning to mindfully breathe all the way down into your stomach, rather than shallowly breathing into your upper chest, can release much stress.

5. Take some time on a daily basis to process your feelings.

When you avoid your feelings by staying in your head, judging yourself, turning to various addictions, or making someone else responsible for your feelings, you are rejecting and abandoning yourself — which creates stress.

Getting mindfully and compassionately present with your feelings takes away the aloneness of self-abandonment and creates a sense of inner-calm.

6. Seek to understand your feelings, instead of trying to repress them.

Learn what your feelings are trying to tell you, which can create immediate relief from stress. Trying to control your feelings by any of the above ways of abandoning yourself just creates more stress.

stressed

7. Accept that you don’t control of the actions of others.

Much stress comes from trying to control what we can’t control. This is what the Serenity Prayer is all about:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Helplessness over others and outcomes is a hard feeling to feel, so instead, you might find yourself trying to control others and outcomes — which you can’t do, and which creates much stress. Compassionately accepting your helplessness over others and outcomes creates serenity.

8. Practice gratitude. What are you grateful for?

Rather than relieving stress, complaining actually creates more stress. Instead of complaining, try focusing on what you are grateful for. You will find that heart-felt gratitude immediately relieves stress. Many of you who are reading this have much to be grateful for. You are likely not starving, not on the streets, not fighting a war. Try being grateful for the everyday things that many people on this planet don’t have.

9. Laugh.

Laughter relieves stress. Even in the midst of life’s challenges, it’s important to find ways to relieve stress with laughter.