Just about all of us lose our cool once in a while. Unfortunately we all experience someone losing their cool in front of us–sometimes AT us. Your hackles go up. You run for cover on the inside and begin building your defensives–or you quickly shoot back in kind.
There is another way to handle people in your face. It’s to quickly step away emotionally from the barrage in front of you–like a coach calling a time-out to re-assess the situation unfolding. Because in that moment of attack, you begin telling yourself a story (from the book Crucial Conversations)–and that story is the key to how you respond/react to the amped-up person.
If you can connect to the truth of whatever is being vented, and tell yourself the right story in your head, you will be able to stay calm and articulate well when the pressure is on. For instance if you were disciplining an employee or one of your kids, and they lash out at you, remind yourself about the WHY (the truth) you are correcting them in the first place–so you can continue forward for their benefit, your benefit, and the team (family’s)’s benefit.
If you fire back at them, the focus then shifts to your immature response instead of the issue at hand. Don’t fall into that trap. Take the high road–even when under attack. And respect for you (and for yourself) will shoot up.