Three Tips to Maintain Your Cool During Conflict

There seems to be more stress, pressure and conflict in the workplace than ever before. As budgets tighten, layoffs happen, and higher productivity is expected, tempers inevitably flare. Show your leadership skills by mastering these tips to maintaining a calm presence in the face of conflict and crisis.


Keep breathing.  When someone behaves in an unexpected way, it is normal for us to stop breathing momentarily. Breathing low and slowly brings more oxygen to your brain, allowing you to think clearly.  It also slows down your central nervous system response, allowing you to maintain control of yourself and the situation. Think about the best outcome. Choose a win-win resolution.

Be strategic in what you say

During a possible conflict situation, use less first-person pronouns and more third-person pronouns. It can transform a situation. For example, “The report has errors…” instead of “Your report has errors….” Possessive words such as I, my, you and your can lead to defensiveness.

Know the meaning of your eye contact

As you discuss the situation, be selective in the amount of direct eye contact.  Too much direct eye contact can inflame the conflict, especially between two males. The rate at which you blink is also a form of giving or removing eye contact. We tend to blink more when we are under stress, so learn to control your blink rate. If you have a serious message to send, practice extending eye contact without blinking in the mirror. Limited blinking adds to your message’s credibility.

Understanding the unconscious messages you send and how they harm or enhance your part in conflict can determine your career future. There are many other ways to maintain your cool during a conflict – these three are some of my favorites – stay tuned for more.