From Chapter 4: Deescalating Conflict
Here you are breathing and thinking, "not a tiger, not a tiger," faced with someone who is flushed, speaking forcefully, clearly upset.
The best thing we can do?
Listen and respond emphatically.
A supportive, genuine, nonjudgmental response can reduce aggressive behavior.
I was once in contact with a seemingly sociopath war veteran. The first remark I made after he stated he was an Iraq war vet was,
Damn. I've read about that war recently - it must feel terrible waging for for the banking cartels.
He did second-think about what I said, although he continued on the conversation maturely.
In some moments, we may seemingly instigate some reaction, but sometimes it's unavoidable so to learn deescalation I reckon, is a worthwhile undertaking.
It's also important that your message, tone, and nonverbal are not threatening.
I can imagine if you're a big & tall guy, you may have to work on being extra reassuring without becoming too apologetic. In my experience, becoming too apologetic tells other people we're not confident in our ability to communicate; this in itself breeds distrust.
There's a lot here regarding deescalation. I'm sure there are endless stories about escalation. Those stories are the ones that go viral. We hear about the individuals lose control of their emotions and act out their internal drama by making a scene in public.
Even for deescalation, it's no wonder why it activates our adrenal response, hyping up our nervous system. As the Author Tania Israel encourages us, deescalation is the skill and aim which she is guiding us to uphold.
We should not contribute to intentionally escalating conflict. Be diplomatic, but not apologetic. Be confident, but, "Don't be a hero." as one of my relatives advised me.
Be strong in assuring a person who is getting annoyed by our viewpoint that we're not completely against them. Be empathetic. Be reasonable, even if they're not. Help them feel safe.
The way of a Christian is this:
Show others mercy, the way God shows us mercy.
However, my Pastor says there are limitations to how God shows us mercy, in that God will walk with us, prodding, reminding us to forgive & repent. If we continue making the wrong choices knowingly, God will not continue to waste his time with us. Thus, we should not waste our time with those who do not want to change.
They who become triggered to negative reactionary behavior when faced with a person who disagrees with them through dialogue; it's not our responsibility to fix them. Their issue is that they themself have not separated their trauma from the emotional response to the things which reminds them of a time they lost control.
This is not something we should think we can help them fix, especially when they are at their wit's end in reasonable behavior while they're forcefully debating their viewpoint at us.
We should be mindful of those whom we are engaging. Trying to integrate humor in a conversation is a common a trigger to some who are prone to outrage; their demeanor (forcefully speaking) should be an indicator of whether they can take a joke or not. Let us not test these people, for we are then become the fool.
Noting the exits
I think someone who has been in enough violent altercations will be mindful (more than average) of how to escape a given area at any given time. These same people may perform mental inventory of escape routes, regardless of the interaction.
I think this is a trait of most smart women, whether they've experienced a physical confrontation or not; I think it's part of their biological striving to evade the hypothetical tiger. Of course, some women are fighters - there's no doubt.
The Author brings up the point wherein if we feel trapped in a car with someone speaking forcefully who won't quit, we should keep in mind a defusing statement such that assures them their arguments are valid, but we'd prefer listening to music to focus on driving.
Let us not feel bad for wanting to end a diatribe; a conversation whose speaker is unwillingness possessive of the power dynamic to a conversation.
If we feel we're in physical danger, let us not feel any need to remain polite - let us think forward and get out & away from perceived threats.
We always have a choice when & whether we should engage in dialogue. Don't forget this.
Individual Differences in Managing Emotions
I walked into a coffee shop I haven't been in in quite some months. The Barista took my order and the Manager walked in shortly after. This Manager, he knows my name - and I know his. He spoke to me the way he usually does, but this time I noticed there was a certain way he communicates.
It's as if he's talking to a pet like a dog, and in the moment I'm happy to talk to someone who recognizes the importance of how to communicate. After the conversation, I considered the potential that that's the way he talks just to keep his head as a Manager.
The reasons I think this man communicates why he does - and the actual reason as to why he does are (unless you're a psychoanalytic professional) unlikely to align. So I after writing about this character, I approached him to recognize how he communicates with others.
He appreciated that I mentioned that I noticed. I said,
It sounds like you're talking to me like I'm a dog. It's good. Where did you learn to talk to people the way you do?
He brought up his work history in retail, saying he used to go about his day not minding how he interacted with others, and that retail was just about clocking in, doing work, and clocking out.
He then brought up his last job where he worked at a coffee drive thru-only retail franchise where he learned customer service. He then turned and casually pointed at the drive thru window behind him, as we both stood across from each other at the in-shop checkout counter.
He mentioned because he looks like a skater kid, many people hold this preconceived notion and seem to judge him heavily, based on his appearance.
This was the morning of March 23, 2022 at 5:38.
You know, having a 30-second window to engage with customers, [I've learned how to do this well].
I assured him I noticed how consistent he is when talking in such a friendly and warm tone.
Just like the way we talk to our pets - is the way he speaks to customers, and I said that he's doing good and to, "Keep up the good work." as we both fist bumped.
I appreciate that, man. That makes my day.
Turning 5:55, my alarm sets off and I continue on to men's bible study.
It's fair to say that even I misjudged his production as if it was deceptive, as if he was trying to portray a certain character. Yet, he seemed wholesome and authentic. He was describing the fact that so many people are sad these days, and being able to brighten someone's day is worth trying to [better our own conversational skills].
Perhaps the moral of the story is to engage in dialogue every chance we get, because a beautiful interaction may be lost to us feeling like we wouldn't like to engage for <fill in reason here>.
When we're at any given point in our ability to communicate, we should give other people the benefit of the doubt and allow their life experience and their personality positively influence our understanding of them.
People have different thresholds for rebounding based on their experiences & conscious awareness of considering the potential for a new interaction to be more productive than the last one.
Adverse Childhood Experiences are potentially traumatic events that occur before a child reaches the age of 18. Read more at ncsl.org
Tania Israel mentions two books of interest:
Self-compassion (book): Forgive yourself, try again.
Shifting deeply embedded emotional patterns is tough & tiring work.
Adaptive emotional regulation strategies breed positive experiences in dialogue.
Applicable to other stressful situations to strengthen resilience and well-being.
- Awareness: acceptance
- Flexibility & exiting with intention: Problem-solving
- Shift our mind: change our perception (reappraisal)
In contrast, maladaptive strategies:
- Emotional dysregulation:
Emotion regular necessitates a certain focus on the self.
Until next time - with Fenix Aarizon
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