When I teach people conflict resolution the question often comes up, “So what am I supposed to do if someone is getting mad at me?” Though counterintuitive, the answer is that you don’t have to do much, just listen. The next time someone is getting upset while talking with you try these techniques:
1. Listen actively.
2. Nod and smile.
3. If you must talk do so only to say, “Tell me more.”
You will be absolutely amazed at the results you will get from simply listening to someone. The trap we fall in is that we think that, when other people are upset, it must be about us. When you give someone the space and opportunity to simply talk and be validated then they will give you much more information than if you engage them in a conflict.
So, give it a try. The next time you are about to get in an argument tell yourself that it is not about you and give the other person the chance to tell you about themselves. Once you master this skill, you will find that many of the conflicts you formerly had will disappear because you will no longer be part of the conflict.