Magazine article Work & Family Life

A 5-Step Formula to Cool Everyone Down

Magazine article Work & Family Life

A 5-Step Formula to Cool Everyone Down

Article excerpt

"Jane, I don't care what your skills are, you just won't fit in with my group," says Al. "You're too prudish and judgmental. Look for another team to work on."

Jane is one of those people who pushes Al's "hot buttons." And now his boss has told him that his new team needs Jane's technical skills.

Jane is shocked by what Al has said. Granted, their previous working relationship was rather tense, but she knows that she's well qualified to work on his new project and is eager for the opportunity to do so.

How should she react to Al's zinger? Lash back? Become defensive? Her best bet is to try this fivestep formula for resolving conflict and cooling down:

Step 1: Watch the play

Jane mentally steps back and watches the scene that's unfolding as if she were watching a play. On the stage are two people: one angry, the other misunderstood. Simple as it may seem, this act of observation helps Jane gain equilibrium. She feels cooler and more controlled because she has taken herself out of the action. She's just watching. Now she's ready for the next step.

Step 2: Confirm

A confirming statement for Jane might be: "I've never heard you say anything like this before. You sound really angry. Can we talk about it some more?" This response takes Al by surprise. He sees that Jane is being reasonable and nonjudgmental. She has managed to diffuse his anger and hers as well. Although Jane is still bothered by what Al said, her "confirming" remarks indicate that she doesn't think he's evil or stupid to feel the way he does. Now they're ready to talk to each other. …

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