How to Control Your Emotions During a Difficult Conversation: The Harvard Business Review Guide



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When you’re in the middle of a conflict, it’s common to automatically enter a “fight or flight” mentality. But it’s possible to interrupt this response and clear a path towards a more productive discussion.

00:00 Have you ever lost control during a heated argument at work?
00:28 Emotions are a chemical response to a difficult situation.
01:35 To stay calm, first acknowledge and label your feelings.
02:25 Next, focus on your body.
03:32 Use visualizations.
04:19 Focus on your breath.
04:52 Repeat a calming phrase or mantra.
05:08 Ok. Let’s review.

Start by taking a deep breath and focusing on your body. Repeat a mantra to yourself such as “This isn’t about me,” “This will pass,” or “This is about the business.” And try to distance yourself from the negative emotion you’re feeling by labeling it: “He is so wrong about that and it’s making me mad becomes I’m having the thought that my coworker is wrong, and I’m feeling anger.” And don’t forget the value of taking a break. The more time you give yourself to process your emotions, the less intense they are likely to be.

Reading list:

https://hbr.org/2017/12/how-to-control-your-emotions-during-a-difficult-conversation
https://hbr.org/2015/12/calming-your-brain-during-conflict
https://hbr.org/2013/02/break-your-addiction-to-being
https://hbr.org/2021/01/how-to-keep-your-cool-in-high-stress-situations
https://hbr.org/2015/05/recovering-from-an-emotional-outburst-at-work
https://hbr.org/2021/12/managing-your-emotions-during-a-negotiation

Produced by Amy Gallo, Jessica Gidal, and Scott LaPierre
Video by Andy Robinson
Edited by Jessica Gidal
Design by Riko Cribbs and Karen Player

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