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Silent Empathy - how to keep calm in difficult situations

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How to control your emotions in difficult situations

Do you know why some people can keep calm when they are having stressful conversations?

How do they stop their emotions hijacking their thoughts and behaviour?

I learnt one technique for keeping in control during difficult situations from my old boss.

He very rarely seemed to get angry with people, but he was no push over. 

Quietly assertive would be the way I would describe him.

I asked him once how he managed to be so calm...

He said it did not work all the time but when he found a conversation becoming "difficult" an effective tool to help him keep calm was "silent empathy". 

Silent empathy is a quick process to identify what the other person may need emotionally or physically in that moment.

By understanding them in this way, it helps you calm down by seeing them as human and not as the cause of your stress.

Silent empathy can be thought as a 2 step process:  

Step One

  • If possible, try to take a "time out" from the situation. 
  • Ask for a 10 minute recess or state that you need to go to the bathroom, take a walk, etc.
  • If you can't take a break for some reason, just do the 2nd step silently while the other person is speaking.

Step Two

  • Now imagine what needs may not be satisfied by this person that may be the cause of their intensity. 
  • Just take a guess silently.
  • You don't need to be correct because just trying to identify the needs not being satisfied will work to calm you down and keep you from getting angry.

‚ÄčThe key point about this technique is that it allows you to focus on them as a person with their own needs and stresses and not as someone who needs to cause you stress.

The EBW View

The Silent Empathy technique is not the most the sophisticated tool to help deal with difficult situations but it is a useful starting point to get colleagues and clients to begin thinking about how to manage their reactions and stop their emotions being hijacked by situations and some of the difficult people they have to deal with on a daily basis.

It is a technique that works best after feedback from an EBW Business EQ Assessment, which boosts an individual's Emotional Intelligence at work.

While at first, it is not easy to use, as your colleagues and clients practise the technique they will find that stressful situations with difficult people become easier and more manageable.

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