Today I am facing a tough situation. Life is full of them, but some are easier to handle than others. The one I face today involves addressing the mistreatment of someone I care about very much, so emotions could have the tendency to run high. I’ve known about this situation for long enough that I could try to prepare somewhat mentally and emotionally before tackling the issue.
As I pondered over the best way to handle this particular scenario, I’ve thought about showing up mad and ready to fight, or trying to be calm and collected and in control. The truth is, I don’t truly know how I will really react until I’ve faced the situation.
It’s not in my nature to get really mad and verbal, I’m more of a ‘I get so upset I can’t express myself and start crying’ type person, which can be frustrating, especially at times like this when the need to express my thoughts clearly is required. As I’ve contemplated facing this conversation today, I’ve done several things that I believe will help prepare myself-
Don’t imagine the conversation beforehand. Sometimes when I am feeling anxious about a possible stressful situation, I will have imaginary conversations with the person beforehand, trying to predict what they may say, and how I will react. For some people, this may actually help, but for me, it puts me on the defensive immediately as I usually imagine the other party as more hostile than they really are.
Take some time to be quiet. This helps immensely when I am feeling anxious about an upcoming conversation or situation that is stressful in some way. As I just sit and think or meditate in the quiet, I’m able to calm my feelings and prepare myself to go into the situation as peaceful as possible.
Write down my thoughts. Much like I am doing now, I write down my feelings, reason out why I am feeling so anxious, and just let my emotions find their way onto paper. Once I have them out and written down, I can somehow see myself from a different perspective and decide if some of my feelings are truly warranted or if I am overreacting, or if I should ‘choose my battles’ when trying to address the situation and just let some things go.
Try to understand the other person. Whether the situation involves a loved one, someone in the professional world or even someone I am just meeting in passing, I try to understand where they are coming from and the what and why’s of their feelings and part in the situation. I try to assume that they want the best outcome as well for the problem, and try to see from their perspective what outcome that may be, and how can I help them achieve that while still making myself heard.
When facing tough conversations, I may not be able to predict just how they will turn out or what my final words and reaction will be, but I do know that I can control myself and not engage in harmful behaviors or discussion that does not help resolve the issue. If the conversation doesn’t seem beneficial or is getting too emotional, I can choose to continue it at another point. I always have a choice of stepping away and coming back later.
If I go into a tough situation with the goal of understanding the feelings and position of the other person, and truly wanting the best outcome for everyone involved, chances are good that the other person(s) will also be more calm and likely to work towards a resolution where we are both satisfied.
One of the most sincere forms of respect is listening to what another has to say. -Bryant McGill