5 easy steps to diffuse difficult situations

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:Diffusing difficult situations


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.

Like to learn more on our day course? A fantastic opportunity to talk through your individual concerns. Find out more here

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A Female Coach & Performance Consultant?

“A Motivation Coach and Performance Consultant? How’d you end up doing that?” is something I hear quite often. I became a certified coach and started my own business, realising there a was shortage of experienced female coaches.  I work blending the two elements of what I’m love; motivation and psychology. I’m a geek on the two subjects and proud of it too. It’s become something of a standing joke that when my partner returns from a course raving about a book, I will already have read it  – whether it be motivating teams, self-motivation or the impact of motivation on corporate goals!

For those close to me the fact that I failed at school will come as no surprise. I’m too full of inquisitive energy and need to explore ideas.  “What have you learned while you’ve been out here?” was uttered to me by disenchanted teachers most days of the week and I spent most of my secondary school career the wrong side of the classroom door. I left with three qualifications to my name. My future didn’t look bright, and I wasn’t wearing rose tinted shades.

I ended up working 9-5. Clock watching my life away in my early twenties was both a sobering and motivating force. As an adult, I returned to college. I became the first mature student from South Birmingham College to gain a place at the esteemed redbrick University of Birmingham, taking on five jobs to fund my way through. I left with a 2:1 degree and set my sights on becoming a teacher.

My grandmother gave me sound advice; if something is worth doing, then it’s worth doing well. I studied with the best names in education – I sold my bed to buy my interview suit for my PGCE for which there were fifty applicants for every place. It was only coming home ecstatically happy having gained a place – jumping in puddles on the way I realised I had no bed to sleep in the night! But, none of that mattered because I was following the trail of what I loved doing.

So I began teaching and almost simultaneously I fell in love with psychology  – which always sounds glamorous when I talk about it, but this really was driven from necessity. When scheduled to teach Shakespeare to 14 year olds last thing on a Friday afternoon, you quickly learn everything you can lay your hands on about motivation and persuasion!

Ebeneazor, if you ever find this blog, the day you ran back to school that Friday evening because you realised you’d forgotten my revision class – that was the day I realised I was quite good at this motivating business (16 year olds run for very few things)! You deserved the standing ovation the class gave you and the light bulb moment you gifted me changed the path of my career for good. I gained my MA (Education) focused upon ‘Deep Learning’ with motivation at the heart of my studies. I became a Deputy Headteacher in a large urban comprehensive school responsible for the professional development of over a hundred staff; trained and practiced as an Ofsted Inspector. I worked at regional and national level, coaching staff and senior leaders and energising teams. Once more I followed the trail of what I loved doing, the tasks where time seems to melt away and you’re left in a state of flow.

My passion sparked academic pursuit, an MSc in Business Psychology and courses with Dr Paul Ekman (the original Dr Cal Lightman from ‘Lie to Me‘) on body language and micro-expressions. I became an expert on deception – it’s not as easy as Dr Cal Lightman makes it appear and whilst an interesting subject for a dinner speech, understanding how to motivate individuals and teams to perform at their best is by far my favourite subject. It’s also how I spend most of my working time. ‘Do what you love…’ as they say, is the story of how I became a Motivation Coach and Performance Consultant.

If you’re looking for a female coach, preparing for your first leadership role or seek support in motivating teams I’d love to start a conversation about how I could help.  Let’s talk… 

The Almost Murder of Mary Poppins

Growing up trying to be practically perfect

Inspiring Women, Management Today and the almost murder of Mary Poppins.

If you have the opportunity to attend Management Today and Women In Management’s Inspiring Women Conference – go. Seriously go – besides being supercharged by ‘can do’ energy – and you never know where that might lead you – I myself nearly murdered my childhood heroine, Mary Poppins.

I grew up with Mary in more ways than one, my father was Mr Banks, quite literally as it happens. He was a Bank Manager with one of the leading high street banks for his whole working life. So while singing ‘Feed The Birds’ at seven years old was endearing – at age 15 it was a rebellious act of defiance. I loved her calm assertive approach and her ability to make chores fun. Go on,  you can admit it, you were humming ‘A spoonful of sugar’ just reading that sentence! Oh and the scene where she pulls the magic tape measure out of her never ending carpet bag (if only my handbags were that accommodating!) to show she measures up practically perfect. Let’s press pause on our Mary Poppins memories and allow me to take you back to the conference room.

It’s 11.35 and we’re all hooked on Jo Haig’s address to us all. She’s talking about confidence in women and how we all need our ‘confidence cloak’.  I’m certainly absorbed – I love psychology and this section was grounded in neuroscience and sound academic research. No NLP pseudoscience here, thank you very much! At the age of 44, in this crowded room full of aspiring and accomplished business women and entrepreneurs, my childhood heroine is about to be pushed from her perilously high pedestal. With hindsight having Deborah Leary, CEO of Forensic Footsteps, as one of the key note speakers could be handy! But no investigation is needed.  I will confess: I contemplated killing Mary Poppins in a coldly calculated act.

Being practically perfect – the silent confidence killer

I’m making notes by now. Always a sign my ticket was worth its price. The subject of confidence broadens for a moment. One of the main confidence killers, we learn, is our constant quest for perfection. We delay and delay taking action because what we’re working on is not quite ready, not good enough. We just need another day to work on it before its ready to be viewed, or listened to, or presented. We’re nodding, the whole hall engaged. Then, there she is, in glorious technicolour in my mind’s eye; Mary with her tape measure – telling us all she is practically perfect and suddenly everything becomes very clear. I need to free myself of this drive for perfection. In one split second Mary is transformed from heroine to archenemy. I need to give myself permission to fail, produce something every once in a while which is ‘good’ and to stop my perfection procrastination.

Reader, I murdered her. Well – perhaps not quite, but I certainly pushed her, two hands firmly on her back as she fell from lofty heights. It would be a crime to kill her, particularly as when asked for any final words she simply smiled and began to hum ‘Votes for Women’. Well then, Mary, float down safely on your umbrella. Know you may stay a valued member of my mentors panel, just as long as you throw away your magic tape measure and come to see, as I have, that not everything needs to be perfect all the time.


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