Nine Tips for Talking When Emotions are High


When is the best time to defuse a bomb? Before it blows up!  Kinda pointless to try to put the fuse out after the bomb has gone off.  Likewise, upon realizing a fuse has been lit,  It’s a good idea to hop right on putting that fire out. Unresolved misunderstanding between two or more people can be much  Like a bomb with a lit fuse. It’s best to go directly to the end of the fuse that’s burning, ( the issue ) and put that fire out!  Do you have an unresolved problem with someone in your life? Don’t wait, don’t hide from the problem,  and don’t bury your head in the sand ( the other end is still exposed.) We all mess up!  So drop the pride. Check your anger at the door. Talk, listen, hear, understand,  and check for meaning. Empathize, Feel, Love, Forgive, and Heal. Repeat if necessary, as many times as necessary. Do it every day, with everyone in your life. Put those burning fuses out! Life is too short to waste a single day in unresolved conflict with another person.

Got Conflict?  There is Hope.

Here are some tips for talking during an emotional conversation, or for any conversation really, to communicate well, to keep it calm, and to help resolve problems successfully.

#1  Talk to her, not about her. We have no business talking to others about a problem with someone else if we haven’t talked to the person with whom we have conflict. There is simply no excuse for gossiping when  we haven’t attempted to resolve our issue with that person directly. It’s all too common that I will hear someone complaining about another person, yet when I ask what happened when they went to that person to discuss the situation, the answer is…”I haven’t asked them,” or I haven’t talked to them.” First, anyone whom we have a complaint about should have the opportunity to answer our complaint.

#2 Be Assertive, Not AggressiveAssertive people state their opinions, while still being respectful of others. Aggressive people attack or ignore others’ opinions in favor of their own.

#3  Be Fair. Don’t accuse without allowing him to tell his story.  Isn’t that really what we all want?  To be heard and understood?  If I am accused of something,  I  must have the opportunity to talk and tell my story.  I must allow the same consideration to anyone I may have a conflict with. This doesn’t mean I agree. It simply means that I am respectful enough to let him express his opinion.

#4  Use “I” statements, not “You” statements.  “I  felt  sad when you said_____.” Rather than pointing a finger and saying “You made me mad…”  or “You are an….”  Those kinds of statements are inflammatory.”

#5  Don’t speak while angry.  Our IQ drops significantly when we are angry. It is very difficult to choose our words carefully when we are highly emotional, and what we do say is often less than helpful. A poor choice of words can be quite damaging. Wait to speak until you are calm and can think clearly. We don’t need to say anything we will regret later. Learn and practice “Mindfulness” to help you remain calm and say what you need to say in a controlled and effective manner, even when you are emotional.

Your Perception is not necessarily her reality!

#6.  Never Assume Meaning.  The message we hear is our perception, and may be way different from what he intended to say. Verify meaning. Paraphrase what you heard, back to the speaker. “I heard you say….____, is that correct? He or she can then say,”No that’s not what I meant at all,” or “Yes, you got it.”  Paraphrasing what you hear, back is a great way to check for meaning.” Did he say something that “made me mad?”  Guess what? Are you sure he meant what you heard?  Seldom do two people get exactly the same meaning from an identical message. Check for meaning…Did I hear you say….? Or did you mean …?  when in doubt, ask the other to clarify  what they meant. If you have not clarified for meaning, you should not be moving to judgement. What you heard is only your perception. Not his reality.

#7. Listen to hear. Be very attentive and focused on her.  Don’t just listen to her words. Listen for the emotion, sincerity, and meaning. Try to hear where she is coming from, even while she may be having a hard time expressing herself. Notice the sincerity, tone, pitch, volume, and voice changes. Notice body language too. Now paraphrase back to her to check for meaning.  If she says “no, that’s not what I meant, then listen more until you can repeat back to her in your own words, what it is she is trying to say. When she knows you understand what she is trying to say, she will be more likely to want to hear what you have to say.

#8 Empathize. Try to imagine how he must feel. How would you feel about the situation if you were in his shoes?

#9 Think Win / Win. Work to find ways to leave a conversation with both of you satisfied with the outcome.

The greatest instigator of increasing conflict is not the issue itself, rather, it is the attitude of those involved. By using tools for talking, we can greatly deescalate most conflict situations, resolve the points in question, improve relationships, and get on with living a better life.

Michael Newcomb



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Michael Newcomb

I am a therapist, writer, photographer, and artist. My purpose in life is to encourage and inspire others, to live life at the highest level, empowered with hope, faith, and the tools to break through the barriers to living an incredible life.

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