If you have ever “gone on the defensive” during a heated discussion, you know that such an approach doesn’t always have the result you desire. In fact, sometimes, it backfires in a B-I-G way, making matters worse. Learning how to handle difficult conversations can help you in your personal life, as well as in business. Read on, to discover a simple, little trick that can help you diffuse a rising emotional outburst. It also enables you to improve leadership skills.
Some people prefer to handle difficult conversations by walking away in silence. While that might make an individual feel better in a particular set of circumstances, it doesn’t necessarily resolve the issue at hand. The next time you’re talking to someone who is causing your temper to rise or making you feel as though you’re being attacked, remember this rule of thumb: Do not respond until you have slowly counted to 10 in your mind. One-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, etc.
Why a 10-second pause helps handle difficult conversations
Whether consciously or subconsciously, a person who is baiting you into an argument might be fueled by your unrest. The more you fire back, the more he or she wants to keep going. If you feel yourself getting tense, anxiety rising and temper beginning to flare, just STOP. Implement the 10-second rule and watch what happens. The first thing that typically happens is that you catch the other person off-guard. Especially if it’s someone who knows you well and knows that you usually get mad or defensive and start to argue. To suddenly witness you being completely in control of your emotions and composed enough to break from the conversation is disarming. You’re taking the fire out of his or her cannon.
If you fly through the numbers in your head at super speed — 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, 10 — it likely won’t do much good. However, when you truly pause for 10 seconds, it gives you time to breathe, think and prepare a response. After time is up, you might decide that it’s better to say nothing at all. You can politely and respectfully say that you’d like to change the subject. If you do wish to respond, 10 seconds gives you the time you need to speak thoughtfully instead of under a knee-jerk reaction. This is especially true if it’s a heated topic that is getting you angry or upset. If you smile while you’re counting to 10, you can melt away frustration!
Pausing for 10 seconds takes the focus off of you
When you learn to resist the urge to give an immediate response, you learn to handle difficult conversations better. Slowly pausing for 10 seconds helps you refocus on the other person. This way, you’re not firing off all pistons and acting on emotion. Instead, you can look the other person in the eye, breathe deeply and diffuse the verbal bomb that’s being lit under your feet.
Waiting before you respond can help you in a business setting, especially if you’re trying to resolve differences of opinion on a team project. In your personal life, as well, you’ll develop a better command of your own behavior if you pause before speaking during a disagreement. Think of it as learning to respond “to the person” instead of “to what the person just said.” Counting to 10 is like hitting a re-set button. Try it, the next time someone is pushing your buttons and you feel your temper rising.