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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 Things Much More Important than Being Right

I really don’t like to be wrong. How about you?

Are you someone who wants — even needs — to be right most of the time? All of the time? Do you like to have the last word in a disagreement? Do you get frustrated when others don’t agree with your opinions? I do, much more often than I’d like. And it never feels good.

Being right is so overrated, especially when it comes at the expense of basic human kindnesses. Inherent in the need to be right is the desire — consciously or not — to put ourselves above others, to make them wrong in order to appease our own insecurities and our ego’s need to be perfect.

Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the love in that? There are so many healthier choices we can make than needing to be right. Let’s start making them!

When we find our minds locked into the need to be right — whether in an argument, a discussion or a casual conversation — let’s call on our hearts to integrate the following five virtues.

1. Openness

We can’t always agree with each other, nor should we always try to. That doesn’t mean everyone who disagrees with us is wrong, or that we’re always right. There’s so much to learn from the ideas and opinions of others when we stay open to listening to them. When we give up the need to be right, we communicate and listen on a deeper level, with more understanding and acceptance, and with less judgment and resistance. This is how dialogues move forward and connections deepen. Also, our openness almost always encourages openness in those with whom we communicate.

2. Detachment

It really is possible to be passionate about what we’re trying to express without being attached to how it’s received. When we are attached to what we’re saying, and to the need to be right about it, we often end up forcing our ideas on others, or distorting our beliefs simply to gain the approval of others. Detachment gives us the freedom to communicate without the pressure of needing to be seen as right. Through detachment, we can find peace with however our comments are received and with whatever direction a conversation takes. Who’s right and who’s wrong becomes irrelevant.

3. Humility

The need to be right is rooted deeply in the ego, and one thing our egos are not is humble. Let’s take a breath and swallow our pride when someone says something we believe to be wrong. We don’t have to prove them so. Even more, we need to be willing to be wrong ourselves. It’s not about compromising our truths, but about being humble within the expression of them. It doesn’t matter whether we’re right or wrong. What’s important is how we handle ourselves in either case.

4. Forgiveness

Though the need to be right enters all areas of our lives, it’s especially damaging during conflicts with those we love. When we believe we’ve been wronged, we often want to prove to the one who’s hurt or betrayed us just how wrong they are. We want to hurt them back. Instead, the focus needs to be on forgiveness. It’s important to share our feelings and express how we feel hurt, but not without a commitment to forgiving the action and the person, no matter how wrong we believe them to be. When the desire to forgive takes precedent, the need to be right dissipates, opening the door for a more conscious and healthy connection.

5. Kindness

Dr. Wayne Dyer famously wrote, “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” We all struggle with the insecurities of our egos, with the insecurity of being wrong. And a threatened ego will almost always lash out. When we make an effort to prove someone wrong by establishing ourselves as right, we’re being unkind in the process, whether we intend to be or not. Only the ego cares about the distinctions between right and wrong. The heart simply loves and accepts whomever is on the other side of the conversation. Let’s operate from our hearts, with kindness.

The next time we feel ourselves pressing to make our point and needing to be right, let’s take a moment to remember that being right is not the goal. It’s unimportant. Let’s try to integrate some of the above qualities into our way of speaking, knowing that by doing so we invite a more conscious and loving exchange with whomever is on the other side of our dialogue.

What other qualities do you bring into your disagreements to keep them from being about who’s right and who’s wrong? I’d love to know.

 
by Scott Stabile      Oct 03, 2014


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8 Keys to Handling Adult Bullies

How to handle adult bullies

“Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others.”
– Paramahansa Yogananda

Most of us encounter adult bullies at certain points in our lives. An adult bully can be an intimidating boss or colleague, a controlling romantic partner, an unruly neighbor, a high pressure sales/business representative, a condescending family member, a shaming social acquaintance, or other types of abusive relationships.

There are five major types of bullying:

Physical Bullying – The use of physical intimidation, threat, harassment and/or harm.

Tangible/Material Bullying – Using one’s formal power (i.e. title or position) or material leverage (i.e. financial, informational, or legal) as forms of intimidation, threat, harassment, and/or harm.

Verbal Bullying – Threats. Shaming. Hostile Teasing. Insults. Constant negative judgment and criticism. Racist, sexist, homophobic language.

Covert or Passive-Aggressive Bullying – Negative Gossip. Negative joking at someone’s expense. Sarcasm. Condescending eye contact, facial expression or gestures. Mimic to ridicule. Deliberately causing embarrassment. Social exclusion. Deliberately sabotaging someone’s well-being, happiness, and success.

Cyber Bullying – Examples of verbal and passive-aggressive behaviors mentioned above can be conveyed on-line, via social media, texting, video, email, on-line discussion, and other digital formats. Identity theft is also a form of cyber bullying.

On the surface, an adult bully may come across as aggressive, demanding, and domineering. However, with an astute approach and assertive communication, you can turn aggression into respect. Here are eight keys to successfully handle adult bullies, with excerpts from my book: “How to Successfully Handle Aggressive, Intimidating, and Controlling People.” Not all of the tips below may apply to your particular situation. Simply use what works, and leave the rest.

1.  Keep Safe

The most important priority in the face of an adult bully is to protect yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable with a situation, leave. Seek help and support if necessary. Contact law enforcement, emergency hotline, crisis hotline, social agencies, or legal representatives if you have to. Should you decide to deal with the aggressor, consider the following skills and strategies.

2.  Keep Your Distance and Keep Your Options Open

Not all adult bullies are worth tasseling with. Your time is valuable, and your happiness and well-being are important. Unless there’s something critical at stake, don’t expend yourself by trying to grapple with a person who’s negatively entrenched. Whether you’re dealing with a road rage driver, a pushy salesperson, a hostile neighbor, an obnoxious relation, or a domineering supervisor, keep a healthy distance, and avoid engagement unless you absolutely have to.

There are times when you may feel like you’re “stuck” with a very difficult person, and there’s “no way out.” In these situations, think outside the box. Consult with trusted friends and advisors about different courses of action, with your personal well-being as the number one priority. We’re never stuck unless we have blinders on. Keep your options open.

3.  Keep Your Cool and Avoid Being Reactive

“Bullies win when you’re upset.”
– NCAB

A common characteristic of bullies is that they project their aggression to push your buttons and keep you off balance. By doing so, they create an advantage from which they can exploit your weaknesses.

If you are required to deal with an adult bully, one of the most important rules of thumb is to keep your cool. The less reactive you are to provocations, the more you can use your better judgment to handle the situation. Some bullying scenarios may require a strong and assertive response, while others may be handled simply with you being unimpressed. Either way, keep your cool when you approach the situation. Maintain superior composure.

4.  Know Your Fundamental Human Rights

A crucial idea to keep in mind when you’re dealing with an adult bully is to know your rights, and recognize when they’re being violated.

adultbullies

As long as you do not harm others, you have the right to stand-up for yourself and defend your rights. On the other hand, if you bring harm to others, you may forfeit these rights.  The following are some of our fundamental human rights:

  • You have the right to be treated with respect.
  • You have the right to express your feelings, opinions and wants.
  • You have the right to set your own priorities.
  • You have the right to say “no” without feeling guilty.
  • You have the right to get what you pay for.
  • You have the right to have opinions different than others.
  • You have the right to take care of and protect yourself from being threatened physically, mentally or emotionally.
  • You have the right to create your own happy and healthy life.

The Fundamental Human Rights are grounded in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, laws in many democratic nations protecting against abuse, exploitation, and fraud, and, if you’re in the United States, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

These Fundamental Human Rights represent your boundaries.

Of course, our society is full of people who do not respect these rights. Bullies, in particular, want to deprive you of your rights so they can control and take advantage of you. But you have the power and moral authority to declare that it is you, not the bully, who’s in charge of your life. Focus on these rights, and allow them to keep your cause just and strong.

5.  Utilize Assertive and Effective Communication

As mentioned above, avoid interacting with aggressors unless you absolutely have to. When you are required to deal with one, strengthen your position by utilizing assertive communication skills. For more on this topic, see my Psychology Today article: “How to Negotiate With Difficult and Aggressive People“

6.   Talk About Your Experience

Some victims of adult bullying remain quiet about their experience, and hide their suffering within. Reasons for keeping silent may include, and are not limited to fear, shame, embarrassment, denial, a sense of helplessness and powerlessness, as well as gender, cultural, social, and/or institutional conditioning.

However, being a quiet victim is not only mentally and emotionally unhealthy, it can encourage the bully to repeat and intensify their aggressive behavior. No matter how difficult the circumstance, seek out trustworthy individuals to confide in, whether they be friends, family, workplace confidants, counselors, or operators on a crisis hotline. Sharing your experience is not only cathartic; the support you receive may often strengthen your ability to handle the challenge.

7. In Serious Situations, Proactively Deal with the Problem Early On and Formalize Your Communication.

With adult bullies whom you need to interact with on a regular basis, it’s important to put a stop to any serious, potentially damaging patterns early on. Let yourself, not the bully, be the one who sets the tone of the relationship.

Whenever possible, formalize your daily communication with the bully by either putting things in writing, or having a third party present as witness. Keep a paper trail of facts, issues, agreements, disagreements, and timelines. Build a strong case of factual evidence against the aggressor. In addition, identify whether there may be other victims of the bully, and consider a joint, formalized response. Leverage strength in numbers.

8.  Set Consequences to Compel Respect

When an adult bully insists on violating your boundaries, and won’t take “no” for an answer, deploy consequences.

The ability to identify and assert consequence(s) is one of the most important skills you can use to “stand down” a difficult person. When effectively articulated, strong and reasonable consequence(s) gives pause to the adult bully, and compels him or her to shift from violation to respect. In my book  “How to Successfully Handle Aggressive, Intimidating, and Controlling People”, consequence is presented as seven different types of power you can utilize to affect strong and positive change.

In conclusion, to know how to handle adult bullies is to truly master the art of communication. As you utilize these skills, you may experience less grief, greater confidence, better relationships, and higher communication prowess. You are on your way to leadership success!

Nov 06, 2016        Preston Ni M.S.B.A.

References
Albert, D.J.; Walsh, M.L.; Jonik, R.H. Aggression in Humans: What is Its Biological Foundation?. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 17. (1993)
Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. Human aggression. Annual Review of Psychology. (2002)
Berkowitz, L. Aggression: Its Causes, Consequences, and Control. McGraw-Hill. (1993)
Bloom, Sandra L. M.D. When Victims Turn Into Bullies. The Psychotherapy Review. (2000)
Carr-Ruffino, Norma. The Promotable Woman. Career Pr Inc; 4th ed. (2004)
How to Deal with Bullies. The National Center Against Bullying. www.ncab.org.au/kids/whattodo/
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). United Nations General Assembly. (1948)

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