• Maintain a low-key, relaxed style, as Chomsky does in this interview, to stand in sharp contrast to that hostile style. Refusing to be a combatant will impress others in the situation
• Rise to the level of the other person’s “loudness” with a strong, direct yet tone and language and with an underlying calm as Clinton did when responding to a heckler in the audience, feeling the audience back him up. See how he takes the mike, moves closer to the heckler yet remains under control.
The biggest reason people get reprimanded at work is for displays of anger yet the top problem individuals have at work is that they do not feel heard or respected. Yet in most situations we can help others feel heard and cool off - even when they are acting difficult -- and still stand up for ourselves.
Staying civil when others are not is vital in this ever more connected, speeded-up world where things can escalate faster and come back to bite you. Here are five separate lessons:
1. Lighten Up
When others begin to act "hot," we instinctively either:
a. Escalate (become like them and get loud, more hostile, or other reactions where we act more like the behavior we do not like),
b. Withdraw (adopt a poker face, say little or nothing, move away).
Both approaches causes all parties to get even more out of balance so things get worse. These behaviors are akin to saying "I don't like your behavior -- therefore I am going to give you more power."
Instead try the LSL rule - “Lower, Slower and Less
• Slow everything down: your voice level and rate and the amount and frequency of your body motions and do not gesture with sharp, raised motions.
• Be aware that you are feeling a hot reaction to the other person. Instead
of dwelling on your growing feelings, move to a de-escalating action.
Leave room for that person to save face and to self-correct. Who knows? You might actually be wrong and need to apologize.
2. Take the "Three A's" Approach
• Acknowledge that you heard
- Verbally acknowledge yet do not take sides:
a. "I understand you have a concern" rather than "You shouldn't have…
b. (Avoid blaming or labeling): "Let's discuss what would work best for us both now" rather than "That was a dumb.”
c. Ask for more information so you can find some common ground based on his underlying concerns or needs.
• Affirm their better side
Try to "warm up" to the part of the person you can respect -- focus on it mentally and refer to it verbally: "You are so dedicated" or "knowledgeable" or whatever their self-image is that leads them toward rationalizing their behavior.
• Add your own view
Say, perhaps, "May I tell you my perspective?" This enables the other person to have the power to give you permission to state your view – yet to make it difficult for him to say no. This approach supports both of you in showing your better sides to each other.
3. Presume Innocence
Nobody wants to be told they are wrong, especially when they feel they are in a weaker position - or wrong. Whenever you believe someone may be lying or simply not making sense, you will not build rapport by pointing it out to them.
Allow them to save face and keep asking questions. Say, for example, "How does that relate to the . . ." (then state the apparently conflicting information). You might find you were wrong, and thus you "save face." Or, by continued non-threatening questions, you can "corner" the other person into self-correcting, which protects your future relationship.
4. Look to Their Positive Intent, Especially When They Appear to Have None
Our instincts are to look for the ways we are right and others are less right. In arguing, as the momentum builds, we mentally focus on the smart, thoughtful, and "right" things we are doing, while obsessing about the dumb, thoughtless, and otherwise wrong things the other person is doing.
This tendency leads us to take a superior or righteous position, get more rigid, and listen less as the argument heats up. Difficult as you might find it, try staying mindful of your worst side and her best side as you find yourself falling into an escalating argument.
You will probably be more generous and patient with that person, and increase the chances that she will see areas where you might be right after all.
5. Dump Their Stuff Back in Their Lap
If someone is verbally dumping on you, do not interrupt, counter, or counter-attack in midstream. You will prolong and intensify these comments. When he is finished, ask "Is there anything else you want to add?" Then say, "What would make this situation better for us both?" or "How can we improve this situation in a way you believe we can both accept?"
Ask that person to propose a solution to the issue they have raised. If he continues to complain or attack, acknowledge you heard them each time and, like a broken record, repeat yourself in increasingly brief language - with variations of "What will make it better?"
Do not attempt to solve problems others raise, even if someone asks for advice. She will instinctively go out of their way to make you wrong. We will spend more time proving our way works best than a method suggested by someone else, even someone we love or like. It's only human.
Five Tips for Reaching Better Agreements
1. If you embarrass someone while attempting to reach an agreement, you may never have that person’s full attention again.
2. Even and especially when you have the upper hand, do not make a victim of the underdog.
3. Offering something free and valued up-front, unasked, often implants a desire to reciprocate, even beyond the value of your offer.
4. Problems seldom exist at the level at which they are discussed. Until you understand the underlying conflict, you will not be able to resolve it.
5. If you want more from someone in a situation, ask for it after they have invested more time, energy, money, reputation, or other resource in that situation.