Do your feel like your office should be on a reality show? You may not believe me, but reality shows can be great communication teachers – as long you temper them down to face reality and not a camera.
Express your emotions
If someone is raising their voice or saying things that perhaps only pirates should say, it is fine to counter the negative attack by letting them know how you feel in a more professional and collaborative manner. While you may be feeling that someone is a complete ogre, you know saying that out loud is not a good idea (unless of course you are trying to get the ratings for your show up). But you can express how you are feeling about the other person’s behavior. Start with saying I feel or I am statements, rather than you are statements. Saying I feel I can’t communicate my message effectively when you say my ideas are all rubbish is a rational way to express how you feel without accusing the other person of anything. And then leave it at that for a moment.
State the obvious
Stating the obvious sometimes is the only way to help curb your own emotions and get a conversation back on track. I am not talking about asking why the person is so difficult to work with, but perhaps something a bit more professional and empathetic. You may simply say: Gretchen you’re yelling at me and I’m wondering what you’re trying to achieve with this behavior. Is this harsh? It could be. But if you are genuine and really want to make a positive impact (again we are talking about building long term work relationships, not television audiences), the message will get across without sarcasm or anger.
Know when to walk away
When your own emotions are about ready to boil over, sometimes it is best to walk away from the situation. On TV you may see doors slamming or walls being punched on a reality show, and I would not recommend that approach. Instead, before you do walk away (and this is the big difference in reality shows and reality), close the conversation with an agreement: to not make things worse. Simply say: Are you willing to make an agreement to take a break for a little while? Leaving the conversation with the agreement to at least agree to disagree and work civilly with one another is sometimes the only agreement two people with vastly different views can agree too. Remember that it may be better to stop a conversation than blow your top during a conversation.