Are you communicating or reacting emotionally?

The other day I was communicating with an employee who has a tendency to resort to emotional communications. When they receive information they do not agree with they take an aggressive and attacking style. They are trying to seek out additional facts, but it comes across as a type of blame game. I don’t even think this individual realizes how they are coming across when they act in this way. It would be easy to get sucked into their emotional state and respond in kind. It would be easy, but not productive.

So often we allow other people’s emotions to affect how we communicate. And when we do we lose the ability to communicate effectively.

Listen without responding

What do you do when you feel like your being attacked? Attack back. Right? I know that is my initial response and in my younger days it was my default response. Overtime, I began to realize how ineffective this strategy was. None of us likes to be disrespected or to feel like our decisions are being questioned. But, if we can’t deal with negativity then we are going to get sucked in and find out that we have even less control then when we started.

When dealing with somebody who is emotional and negative the best response is to just listen. Try to understand what is driving their emotional response so you can formulate a non-emotional response that will address their perceived, or real problem.

Before you can resolve any disagreement or conflict you need to listen. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with what they are saying, only that you need to understand it. If you don’t take the time to understand other people’s perspectives you can’t hope to engage in positive and productive communication.

Communicating through emotions only further generates more emotions in response. At the end both people will walk away feeling frustrated and nothing will have been resolved. Both parties will be even further away from an amicable resolution then when they started.

Respond with questions not answers

An emotional person is seeking understanding and is expressing frustration due to a perception that they are not being heard. So when you respond start by asking questions. Don’t assume you know the answer – even if you do. Ask questions that not only help you to understand, but that also help the other person to think deeper about what is upsetting them. This will allow them to feel that they are being listened to and it will also challenge them to give non-emotional, and hopefully factual, responses to the situation. Asking questions generates thoughtfulness and hopefully recognition of all facts.

Sometimes all it takes to diffuse emotional communicating is to seek understanding. Once the person realizes that you are concerned with at least hearing their perspective it takes a lot of fire out of their emotional state.

Control your emotions and you can control the conversation

If you control your emotions and seek out understanding you will find yourself in control of more conversations. This doesn’t mean that you are always correct, or that you are winning conversations, it simply means you will be able to direct the conversation to an amicable outcome.

Avoid emotional responses. Seek understanding. Find common ground that gets both parties to a resolution that gets each side a bit of what they want.

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