We all know that some people in this world spend much of their lives over-agitated, irritated, or just looking to pick a fight with someone. If only the world was filled by level-headed rational people. But even the sane can let our emotions get the best of us at times.
There is no simple way to completely avoid overly emotional people. You are bound to run into them, or come across an overly-emotional conversation at some point in your life. All you can do is try to make them more constructive, and less painful.
Dr. Albert J. Bernstein, a clinical psychologist, has perfected his techniques for bringing an out-of-control conversation back down to Earth. He gives tips and suggestions, like these phrases, that can help calm an emotional conversation, and sooth even the most outraged. “If you feel like a preschool teacher, you’re probably doing it right.”
- “Please speak more slowly. I’d like to help.”
A lot of times the problem may not be that the person is speaking too quickly, but that they are screaming their head off or crying uncontrollably. Nonetheless, this phrase can work its magic, according to Bernstein. This works, because it breaks the pattern going on in their head. When someone is outraged, or in an overly emotional state, they expect you to resist. However, this phrase shows that you’re interested. This makes them start start to think again, and not lash out. Which is a good thing.
- “What would you like me to do?”
This phrase works in the same way as number 1. It shifts the person from that primitive emotional state, the fight or flight, and allows them to start thinking rationally again.
- Ask any question at all.
“Explaining yourself is almost always a disguised form of fighting back,” Dr. Bernstein says. The other party can sense this, and tense up and get more aggressive or emotional. If you want to get the conversation back somewhat to an orderly, sane track, questions are a lot more productive than arguing or trying to explain yourself.