We've all had moments where a discussion is poised on the brink of an argument. Do we really want to go there? If not, we might think about the future. Thinking about the future helps us take a step back from the emotional conflict moment, and place negative events in context (Tweet it!).
Writing about his own study in the Harvard Business Review Alex C. Huynh, a social psychology researcher at the University of Waterloo, Canada, says, “We found that participants who thought about the future expressed [cognitive reasoning strategies versus impulsive emotion] more than those who were focused on the present moment.”
What psychologists are verifying is something long known to philosophers. As Confucius said, “When anger rises, think of the consequences.” Imagine what the conflict might mean to you in a week, a month, a year.”
What strategies do you use to try to defuse an argument? Do you ever find yourself considering the future? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
If you would like to read more about creating a habit around communication mastery, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion.
8/31/2017 07:31:34 am
Very insightful approach! Just the other day I was involved in a discussion that was on it's way South...and fast! This time the attacks became personal towards me. It's funny, my initial impulse was to attack back - in reality, the error in question was theirs and not mine - but I didn't. I took a short pause and let them finish all they had to say. Afterward I thanked them. Later that day they came to my office and apologized for overreacting. As this article suggests, we all have moments when we are not at our best, but these moments are only moments. Keeping focused on the future - on the long-term definitely helps to ride out those frustrating moments and keeps us steady.
9/7/2017 08:37:06 am
Wow! So you actually did not defend -- even when 'right' was on your side, Fred! What a happy ending: Your silence seems to have given the person space to reflect and get insight into their part of the problem. Impressive!
10/18/2019 05:23:13 pm
Pause, take a deep breath and truly take the time to listen to the other person’s position and reasoning. Ask questions about their position. The questions will make the other feel like you are really listening. I realize these are simple “active listening” skills, but often simplicity works!
10/23/2019 09:19:41 am
I so agree with you Todd. Often the simplest approach works best. Another simple technique I might add is to say “Tell me more…” There is research that suggests the person who does 51% of the talking or more feels better about the other person, better about the conversation, and more committed to the solution. Your suggestions and mine both give the other person a chance to do more of the talking. Thanks for staying connected.
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