Staying Calm During Work Arguments


No person is ever safe from heated work debates. Being lured into a heated debate happens so quickly. Before you know what happened a simple debate has escalated out of control. Keep the following points in mind to help you stay calm and in control:

1. Acknowledge the Reality and Know what You’re Talking About

Acknowledge that the person you are facing in a heated debate may not have the full context of the situation. Listen for the areas where the person may have the wrong view or missing information and appropriately point out that they don’t have the full context…help them fill the missing puzzle pieces. Make sure you are not the person using faulty information.

2. It’s Business, not Personal

Most heated debates are about conflicting business views and people feeling their views aren’t being heard. Yes, some people do have dominant approaches and bully their way through an argument, but you need to stand your ground and always keep in mind that the debate is about business, not about you. Keeping this in mind will help you to not trigger personal emotions – keep the conversation about the business issue and not the person.

3. Certain Opinions are Best Left Unused

Check yourself for having opinions and don’t use the opinion as the foundation of entering the debate. This happens when you have formed an opinion that for example, everybody knows that the person you are having the debate with is a bully and always argues no matter what.Basing your response from opinions (right or wrong) sets you off on an emotional response and you tend to have your guns ready even before the debate starts. This approach makes it harder to stay level headed and it undermines positive energy. Keep the debate focussed on the real issue.

4. Sleep on It

If things can’t be resolved at the point of the debate it’s best for all parties to agree a time out period to reflect and then regroup. It’s also a good technique to call a time out period for reflection when all parties are on an emotional high and decisions are forced; reflect on the decision and then regroup to validate the proposed decision that was agreed at the high point of emotions.

5. A Cooler Head Prevails – Win by not Losing

The best way to win in an irrational debate is to keep calm. Keeping your cool, sticking to your point and not allowing yourself to get equally as emotional is the best way to deal with an irrational person. Staying cool may leave you with feeling dissatisfied with your debate, but at least you will be able to leave the situation knowing you were rational, coherent and left the door open. After heated debates are over, people only remember a person’s irrational behaviour; this leaves the irrational person with a long lasting credibility challenge amongst co-workers.

6. Learn when to Fold – Even if You’re Right

Consciously think how far you’re willing to let the debate go. If it continues to escalate and it becomes clear that there is no resolution at all and the emotions are at an immature level with name calling, accusations and personal attacks, walk away.

As the old saying says, “Save your sanity and never wrestle a pig.You will both get dirty and pigs like being dirty”

7.Avoid Burning Bridges

Heated debates are in the moment and pass. Try to disengage in a way that both leaves good spirits intact and leaves the door open to continue buildingwork relationships; you never know when the person will circle back in your career with possible revengeful action.

This article first appeared in LinkedIN. Credit goes to Brian Ferreira


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