- Take a deep breath. Calm yourself. Avoid
- Speak quietly and calmly.
Listen carefully and considerately to the
other person without interrupting. Hear them out. Keeping quiet allows
the other person to explain more fully and to think about what they
are saying with less pressure.
Respect the other person in your viewpoint
and your language: Address the other person as "Sir" or "Miss".
Try to repeat back what you understand about
the other person's viewpoint. Ask questions that reflect your understanding
of their viewpoint and incorporate it in your question: "I understand
that you need a letter from this office. Do I have that right?" This
will help the other person feel understood and engage them in a rational
Suggest a calm, problem solving approach
to the situation: "Miss, if we sit down together, I'm pretty sure
that we can talk this situation out."
Be empathic. Imagine how you would feel
in the other person's place--if you were in their shoes.
Try not to be judgmental. Don't do or say
anything to embarrass or humiliate the other person. Don't accuse,
punish or scold.
Don't crowd the other person. Stand at least
two or three feet from them. Respect their personal space. "Squaring
off" with the other person (standing close, directly face-to-face)
is too challenging and can lead to escalation. Stand to one side or
at an angle.
Allow the other person to vent their feelings
as much as necessary.
Ignore challenging, insulting or threatening
behavior from the other person. Redirect the discussion to a cooperative
approach to the issue. Answering challenges promotes a power struggle.
Keep your body language, posture, gestures,
movement, and tone of voice non-threatening. The other person is more
likely to respond to these nonverbal aspects of your behavior than
to the explicit content of your statements.
Try to avoid an audience. Onlookers can
make it more difficult for people to "back down"--in some cases they
can actually incite the other person to intensify the argument. Suggest
that you go somewhere else to discuss the problem. (Don't go somewhere
isolated where you would be unable to get help if you need it.)
Keep your statements simple, clear and direct.
Avoid complicated, confusing explanations and big, obscure or pretentious
Don't take anything personally. Understand
that people say things that they don't really mean when angry.
If the other person becomes extremely hostile,
try to have someone else available so that you are not alone.
You may not always be able to give the other
person what they want, but offer them something that you can give.
Emphasize what you can do for them.
If an argument becomes heated, put off your
need to make your point or express your feelings until another time
Don't rush. Take as much time as needed
for the situation. Trying to hurry usually makes the situation worse.
Give the other person an exit. Don't back
the other person into a corner. Leave the door open to discuss the
problem further at a later time. Tell them that you will think it
over. Don't insist on a final resolution immediately.
Use humor (but never at the other person's
expense). Make fun of yourself, if you can.
Tell the other person directly that you
don't want to fight--that you want to resolve the situation in an
Apologize for anything that you might have
done which offended the other person (even if you don't think you
did anything offensive).