When you are in a tense conversation, it is hard to not get worked up emotionally. Your heart rate increases, your breathing changes completely and your muscles tighten. These are all signs that your body has gone into “fight or flight” mode. When this happens you may lose access to your prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for rational thinking. Not only are you losing the ability to think and hear clearly, chances are the other person notices the signs of stress and will probably start acting and feeling the same. Before you know it the conflict intensifies…
The good news is, there are a few things you can do to calm yourself down! (And with practice it does get easier over time)
Simple awareness techniques can become your best friend in tense situations and nothing is more accessible than using your breath. When you feel yourself getting stressed out, focus on your breathing. Notice the sensation of the air coming in and out of your lungs, this will take your attention off the physical signs of panic and keep you centered. Try to inhale and exhale for a count of 6-10 and repeat a few times.
2. FOCUS ON YOUR BODY:
Experts recommend walking around helps to activate the “thinking” part of your brain. When things get heated, request a few minutes break, so that you can take a walk. If you are seated and you cannot request a break, place both of your feet firmly on the ground, this is called “anchoring” or “grounding.” It works in all kinds of stressful situations.
3. TRY SAYING A MANTRA:
Come up with a phrase that you can repeat to yourself to remind you to stay calm. Try something like “this is not about me,” or “this will pass” or “this is business, not personal.” Be creative and find a mantra that resonates with you.
4. TAKE EMOTION OUT OF THE EQUATION:
This is not always easy, but once mastered, it can be of great value. Take emotions out of the conversation and stick to the facts only. Discuss the facts with the person without attacking the person on a personal level. As the English singer and song writer, Robbie Williams says in one of his songs: “Hate the sin, not the sinner.”
Any conflict can be tough, but you are not going to solve any issues or maintain a good relationship if you continue with the conversation and you are stressed, upset and worked up.
Try our 4 tactics and let us know in the comments if they helped you move from angry and upset to cool as a cucumber 🙂