Ever wondered how to diffuse difficult situations? We’ve all had days when we’re caught off guard by an angry client, colleague or boss. It’s easy in these situations to assume you have no power in this situation – but that would be wrong. Follow these five steps to ensure the situation calms, you can diffuse difficult situations and both leave feeling you’ve moved forwards:
Five steps to diffuse difficult situations
- If the person is facing you head on twist your body slightly to introduce an angle. Even a slight twist of the hips and angle of the foot will help to take the heat out of the situation.
- Lower both the volume and pitch of your voice. Inform the person that what they’re talking about is important to you, but the fact that they are raising their voice makes it difficult to hear their points. Avoid using the word ‘shouting’ as they may be so emotional that they are unable to see this. If necessary, you can say that you can tell they feel passionately about what’s troubling them. Again state that the issue is important to you too. Once more, calmly ask them to avoid raising their voice.
- If they are taller than you, never raise your throat to look up at them. This is a submissive stance, revealing the jugular! Instead raise your eyes to make eyes contact. The subtext here is, “It’s normal to be down here – what are you doing up there!”
- Seek a ‘win-win’ – this can even be that a calm person is better than an angry one for both sides! Sum up the main points of what is being expressed – even if you disagree with them. State that you will look deeper into the situation and get back to them. The aim is to calm the person and not engage in a full conversation at this point. This will buy you time to ensure you have the full facts and are in control of the feedback.
What to do if they continue to shout:
- Calmly state that they are still raising their voice. Remind them that the conversation is important but you are unable to listen effectively so you’re ending the conversation. State that the passion behind the words is stopping you having a calm professional conversation. Inform them that you will rearrange a meeting.
When you diffuse difficult situations ensure your safety is placed first.
Never agree to speak with a clearly angry client or colleague without a witness present. If it is a client you need to talk to, include a colleague and introduce them as a notetaker – stating this will enable you to give them your full attention in order to solve the issue.
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