When a heated conversation has risen either at work or at home, and you notice that your body and mind are preparing for the attack (verbal or physical), you can say, “I’m getting frustrated—I’m going to take a break.” or “I can’t talk to you right now; I’m really upset so I’m going to wait until I’m calm. I’m going to come back and we’ll talk later.” Then go and take the time out.
Admitting that you’re angry and you need some time to calm down is not going to make you weak, or put you in a weaker position compared to the person whom you were conversing with; Yes, it takes a lot of strength to say these words out loud, and once you do, you will have the time to return to yourself and feel the power to continue the same conversation differently in a very short time.
You may not necessarily feel that the person whose behavior, manner, or words negatively provoked you, deserves your respect at that moment, but you may feel that you owe respect to yourself, and by stopping the communication that leads to negative result, you provide yourself with the needed time and space to recollect your thoughts and move the conversation into another direction.
A few weeks ago, while doing my grocery shopping, I'd put my vegetable on a scale while chatting with someone who asked for help. Behind my back, I heard this man nagging loud to make sure that I heard him of how stupid or cheating I was. As a result I realized that I mixed the two bags of vegetables and put stickers with price on the wrong bag. I had enough time to reflect and turn the situation into something like: ‘ Yes, it is amazing how distracted one can be. How good that you were there to remind me of my mistake.’ He was stunned, and put his head down to make himself less visible in the crowd. I had a great day afterwards. One of the reasons was that I was proud of myself for not getting into the same negative mood as that man, and I could still serve him with a good response before he was gone. I can only hope that he had a great day, too.
The high contagion and reactivity of resentment and anger are very likely to make you react the way you do not really want to. To avoid feeling bad after the outburst, you have to train yourself to detect when it starts to rise and stop it. The more you observe yourself, the more you will notice when you start ‘steaming’. That is the point where you want to say ‘stop’. Remember how awful you may feel after hurting someone, and how hard it is to ask for forgiveness after it has happened. You want to enjoy your day on, and not having it ruined because of the incident that did not make you feel proud of yourself.
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