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How to Handle High-Tension Situations and Tough Conversations

How to Handle High-Tension Situations and Tough Conversations

Last week, a friend of mine reached out to me to provide him with professional feedback. I had worked with him a few months prior, and he wanted my real, honest feedback- of which I had plenty.

Feedback is always a tough thing to go through for everyone involved, but this was going to be a new level of uncomfortable, since I needed to provide feedback to my friend.

High-tension situations are almost unavoidable. It’s crucial to approach these situations in the right way in order to get exactly what it is you want.

Think about the last time you were in a high-tension situation. How were people acting? How were you acting?

It’s likely that there were people who were staying quiet and avoiding the conflict and also people who were getting heated and obviously frustrated.

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Not talking things out will most likely cause you to act them out. This can be very, very bad for your career (or even your personal life)! There are two ends to the communication spectrum: silence and violence.

Neither end is productive or beneficial.

Avoiding conversations by being silent won’t allow you to express your thoughts, ideas, or feelings. At the same time, arguing to the point that you get violent is also not effective.

I couldn’t ignore my friend’s request, as he was definitely in need of feedback, but I needed to proceed with tact.

The goal is to find a middle ground- somewhere in between- where you’re expressing your thoughts and feelings, but in a productive, non-violent manner. Middle ground exists in the form of dialogue- talking things out in a productive manner to work toward achieving the desired outcome.

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Sounds easy enough, right?

Not quite.

We are often in situations that are out of our control, and we naturally go toward one end of a spectrum. As humans, our natural response to stressful situations is either fight or flight. It’s a natural reaction, and it’s hard to truly avoid having these reactions, and so our communication naturally shuts down.

What you can control, however, is how you respond to these natural reactions.

But how?

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Prepare yourself.

When you know that you are going to be having a tough conversation with someone, you must prepare yourself. When tensions get high, the conversation can immediately take a turn for the worse.

But, if you prepare yourself before going into a high-tension conversation, you greatly improve your chances of having the conversation turn out how you want it to.

    How do you prepare for a critical conversation?

    You must know the outcome you want. At work, this could be things like: a salary raise, the ability to work from home one day a week, more management experience, etc.

    In your personal life, maybe it’s getting your significant other to help you with dinner on Mondays and Wednesdays.

    Whatever the situation is, know exactly what it is that you want from the conversation. It’s crucial to keep this at the forefront of your mind for the entire conversation so you don’t unnecessarily stray toward being silent or violent.

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    Another step in preparing yourself is to know what you want to say. Don’t go into a high-tension conversation or situation without knowing what it is you want to say. When we are unprepared to talk, we often start off by blabbing out the first thing that pops into our heads, and this can make the situation worse. Or, we don’t say anything at all.

    If you know what you want to say, you’re less likely to start the conversation off on the wrong foot. Treat this just like any other high-stakes situation. Think about it- professional athletes don’t go out on the field without practicing their playbook for days or weeks before a game.

    So, I needed to practice what I wanted to say to my friend, so I:

    1. Wrote out exactly what I wanted to say
    2. Practiced reading out loud by myself
    3. Simulated the conversation with a colleague at work

    As I practiced, I tried to look at what I wrote as little as possible. Practicing like this made my actual conversation that much easier.

    Prepare yourself and what it is that you want to say, and you’ll be able to influence the direction of the conversation, making it that much easier and more likely for you to achieve the outcome you want. Finding middle ground in a critical conversation isn’t easy, but by preparing yourself ahead of time, you’re bound to make the conversation easier on yourself and significantly improve your chances of success.

    What are ways you try to keep dialogue flowing during conversations? Let me know in the comments below.

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    Dominic DeMartini

    Founder, DrivenProfessional

    How to Handle High-Tension Situations and Tough Conversations 9 Things Confident People Do

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    Last Updated on October 29, 2018

    What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It)

    What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It)

    Brain fog is more of a symptom than a medical condition itself, but this doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Brain fog is a cognitive dysfunction, which can lead to memory problems, lack of mental clarity and an inability to focus.

    Many often excuse brain fog for a bad day, or get so used to it that they ignore it. Unfortunately, when brain fog is ignored it ends up interfering with work and school. The reason many ignore it is because they aren’t fully aware of what causes it and how to deal with it.

    It’s important to remember that if your brain doesn’t function fully — nothing else in your life will. Most people have days where they can’t seem to concentrate or forget where they put their keys.

    It’s very normal to have days where you can’t think clearly, but if you’re experiencing these things on a daily basis, then you’re probably dealing with brain fog for a specific reason.

    So what causes brain fog? It can be caused by a string of things, so we’ve made a list things that causes brain fog and how to prevent it and how to stop it.

    1. Stress

    It’s no surprise that we’ll find stress at the top of the list. Most people are aware of the dangers of stress. It can increase blood pressure, trigger depression and make us sick as it weakens our immune system.

    Another symptom is mental fatigue. When you’re stressed your brain can’t function at its best. It gets harder to think and focus, which makes you stress even more.

    Stress can be prevented by following some simple steps. If you’re feeling stressed you should avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine — even though it may feel like it helps in the moment. Two other important steps are to indulge in more physical activities and to talk to someone about it.

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    Besides that, you can consider keeping a stress diary, try relaxation techniques like mediation, getting more sleep and maybe a new approach to time management.

    2. Diet

    Most people know that the right or wrong diet can make them gain or loss weight, but not enough people think about the big impact a specific diet can have on one’s health even if it might be healthy.

    One of the most common vitamin deficiencies is vitamin B12 deficiency and especially vegans can be get hid by brain fog, because their diet often lacks the vitamin B-12. The vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to mental and neurological disorders.

    The scary thing is that almost 40 % of adults are estimated to lack B12 in their diet. B12 is found in animal products, which is why many vegans are in B12 deficiency, but this doesn’t mean that people need animal products to prevent the B12 deficiency. B12 can be taken as a supplement, which will make the problem go away.

    Another vital vitamin that can cause brain fog is vitamin D. More than 1 billion people worldwide don’t have enough vitamin D in their diet. Alongside B12 and vitamin D is omega-3, which because of its fatty acids helps the brain function and concentrate. Luckily, both vitamin D and omega-3 can be taken as supplements.

    Then there’s of course also the obvious unhealthy foods like sugar. Refined carbohydrates like sugar will send your blood sugar levels up, and then send you right back down. This will lead to brain fog, because your brain uses glucose as its main source of fuel and once you start playing around with your brain — it gets confused.

    Besides being hit by brain fog, you’ll also experience tiredness, mood swings and mental confusion. So, if you want to have clear mind, then stay away from sugar.

    Sometimes the same type of diet can be right for some and wrong for others. If you’re experiencing brain fog it’s a good idea to seek out your doctor or a nutritionist. They can take some tests and help you figure out which type of diet works best for your health, or find out if you’re lacking something specific in your diet.

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    3. Allergies

    If you have food allergies, or are simply a bit sensitive to specific foods, then eating those foods can lead to brain fog. Look out for dairy, peanuts and aspartame that are known to have a bad effect on the brain.

    Most people get their calories from corn, soy and wheat — and big surprise — these foods are some of the most common foods people are allergic to. If you’re in doubt, then you can look up food allergies[1] and find some of the most common symptoms.

    If you’re unsure about being allergic or sensitive, then you can start out by cutting out a specific food from your diet for a week or two. If the brain fog disappears, then you’re most likely allergic or sensitive to this food. The symptoms will usually go away after a week or two once you remove the trigger food from the diet.

    If you still unsure, then you should seek out the help of your doctor.

    4. Lack of sleep

    All of us know we need sleep to function, but it’s different for everybody how much sleep they need. A few people can actually function on as little as 3-4 hours of sleep every night, but these people are very, very rare.

    Most people need 8 to 9 hours of sleep. If you don’t get the sleep you need, then this will interfere with your brain and you may experience brain fog.

    Instead of skipping a few hours of sleep to get ahead of things you need to do, you’ll end up taking away productive hours from your day, because you won’t be able to concentrate and your thoughts will be cloudy.

    Many people have trouble sleeping but you can help improve your sleep by a following a few simple steps.

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    There is the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise, which is a technique that regulates your breath and helps you fall asleep faster. Another well-known technique is to avoid bright lights before you go to sleep.

    A lot of us are guilty of falling asleep with the TV on or with our phone right by us, but the blue lights from these screens suppresses the production of melatonin in our bodies, which actually makes us stay awake longer instead. If you’re having trouble going to sleep without doing something before you close your eyes, then try taking up reading instead.

    If you want to feel more energized throughout the day, start doing this.

    5. Hormonal changes

    Brain fog can be triggered by hormonal changes. Whenever your levels of progesterone and estrogen increases, you may experience short-term cognitive impairment and your memory can get bad.

    If you’re pregnant or going through menopause, then you shouldn’t worry too much if your mind suddenly starts to get a bit cloudy. Focus on keeping a good diet, getting enough of sleep and the brain fog should pass once you’re back to normal.

    6. Medication

    If you’re on some medication, then it’s very normal to start experiencing some brain fog.

    You may start to forget things that you used to be able to remember, or you get easily confused. Maybe you can’t concentrate the same way that you used to. All of these things can be very scary, but you shouldn’t worry too much about it.

    Brain fog is a very normal side effect of drugs, but by lowering your dosage or switching over to another drug; the side effect can’t often be improved and maybe even completely removed.

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    7. Medical condition

    Brain fog can often be a symptom of a medical condition. Medical conditions that include inflammation, fatigue, changes in blood glucose level are known to cause brain fog.

    Conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, anemia, depression, diabetes, migraines, hypothyroidism, Sjögren syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, Lupus and dehydration can all cause brain fog.[2]

    The bottom line

    If you haven’t been diagnosed, then never start browsing around Google for the conditions and the symptoms. Once you start looking for it; it’s very easy to (wrongfully) self-diagnose.

    Take a step back, put away the laptop and relax. If you’re worried about being sick, then always check in with your doctor and take it from there.

    Remember, the list of things that can cause brain fog is long and it can be something as simple as the wrong diet or not enough sleep.

    Featured photo credit: Asdrubal luna via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1]Food Allergy: Common Allergens
    [2]HealthLine: 6 Possible Causes of Brain Fog

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