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How Not To Turn Meaningful Discussions Into Arguments By Keeping This 1 Thing In Mind.

How Not To Turn Meaningful Discussions Into Arguments By Keeping This 1 Thing In Mind.

When in the midst of a discussion, all we really want is to be heard, and for our point of view to be considered. But sometimes in the heat of the moment if a conversation isn’t going our way, we can get defensive; escalating a friendly discussion into a full blown argument.

A lot of the time this happens without us even meaning to, and we lose control of the situation. We want our views to be understood. But sometimes while explaining our stance we might not realize that we are offending the other people involved in the discussion, turning it into something ugly and running away from the initial point.

Exhibition 1. Times We Mess Up in a Discussion: Workplace

The most volatile environment that this could happen is in the work place. You want to appear to be informed and articulate, so you engage with your coworkers about a politically inspired debate. This is an incredibly touchy subject regardless, so approach with caution when flinging your hard-pressed beliefs out in the open. (I don’t agree with the following example but bear with me for a moment). Say that you don’t believe that women should get equal pay in the workplace, because men have to spend more money to please their women. You could have been half-joking when you said it, but now every woman in the office probably hates you, along with many feminist empathizing men. There’s nothing wrong with shaking things up a bit, but think before you speak.

Exhibition 2. Times We Mess Up in a Discussion: Family

The same goes for friends and family. You don’t need to be as cautious because it’s not going to affect your professional career, but you also don’t want to offend those closest to you. Let’s suppose that you came from a small town, but moved to the big city to find your place in the rat race. When you return home, you view everyone as just doing the same old thing. While that may be true, be careful on how you word things if you decide to bring this up. Don’t use words like, “towny,” because now you’re offending even the people you returned home to see.

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A Careless Mistake That Escalates the Original Issue into a Huge Conflict

Now not only do you need to backtrack to get your original point across, but you have to do some damage control to alleviate the situation that is now getting blown out of proportion. The original issue is now no longer relevant, and what should have been a friendly discussion is turning into a huge mess.

When people feel that they are being attacked or judged, they will immediately become defensive and retaliate. The conversation will shift into justifications for their behavior or beliefs that they feel you have been insensitive to, and the remainder of the discussion will consist of you trying to calm them down to realize what you actually meant, and return to your initial point.

It’s not a very good look for you, coming across as judgmental and not accepting of other’s point of view. That may have not been your intent at all, but because of poor word choices, you appear to be that way. Now others are judging you for being judgmental. Exhausting, isn’t it?

Emotions are on the rise and have taken control of the situation. Now all of your efforts are directed at diffusing the situation, and you may not ever get a chance to explain yourself.

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Why Do We Sometimes Get Defensive Even Without Our Notice?

I think we all know that one person that is next to impossible to speak to, because we know that any little thing will put them on the defensive and shut you out. If you don’t know anyone like this, then maybe it’s you. But why does it happen?

1. We Do Not Feel Respected or Being Heard.

Sometimes we react impulsively, or don’t realize the weight of our words until we’ve already said them. Then the recipient of our comments doesn’t exactly take it so well, and the original point has been lost.

Example: You’re unhappy with your boyfriend because he doesn’t seem to have any time for you. You try to talk it out with him, but your first point is that he makes you feel like he doesn’t care. Now, all of his efforts have been belittled, and he feels like you don’t appreciate all that he does for you. It blows up into an argument of accusing each other of not caring, and the original issue doesn’t get resolved.

2. It Is How Our Brains Are Wired.

Our brains are hard-wired to switch gears into our Self Protective System if we feel that we are being attacked verbally, physically, or mentally. Our brains don’t only react to situations instinctively, but reasonably as well to preserve our physical and psychological well-being. What’s interesting about our self-protective systems is that they are not learned. They are genetically manufactured, along with the other facets of our DNA and personality traits. From early childhood we will exhibit this instinct to protect ourselves.

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Example: As a small child, you are trying to finish a puzzle before the end of playtime. Now the teacher is saying playtime is over, and you need to put the puzzle away even though you haven’t finished it. In your small developing mind, you feel that the teacher is undermining your ability to finish the puzzle, so you throw a temper tantrum that will nearly drive the teacher to tears.

How to Diffuse an Issue Before It Escalates

1. Mirror the other person after they speak, to let them know that you are listening.

If you’re in the workplace and your coworker suggests an action that you don’t agree with, you can respond by saying that you understand their idea to (reiteration of suggestion) although you think it might be helpful to look at it from another perspective as well, and perhaps find a solution that encompasses both.

2. Avoid using the word “but”.

The word just has a negative ring to it in the midst of a discussion. For example: “I hear what you’re saying, but-“ with just that one word, you have completely undermined the other person. By adding the word but, you are saying that what you are about to say next is more important than the point that they already made.

3. Don’t make judgments or express your emotions without explanation.

Which of these sentences sounds better to you?

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“You never take my suggestions seriously.”

“I feel frustrated because you haven’t responded to few of my previous emails, is it because you don’t find my comments to be useful?”

The first sentence is incredibly accusing, and will immediately put the recipient on the defensive. In the second example, the sender fully explains their feelings on the matter, and give the recipient a chance to explain themselves as well.

4. Invite them to give comments so they feel respected.

After voicing your opinion, ask the other person or people in the discussion to voice their opinions on the matter as well, so they know that their thoughts are valued.

Featured photo credit: criticallyrated via google.com

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Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, freelance writer, & plantbased food enthusiast.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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