Diffusing tension in conversation

3 Tips For Diffusing Tension When Discussing Controversial Topics Or In Tense Situations

In today’s society, it seems that contention can arise during any conversation. But if you’re having an interaction that’s inherently controversial, like if you’re talking about a hot button topic or speaking with someone who might be combative, it’s wise to know what you can do to help reduce the heat in these conversations. 

To help you learn how this can be done, here are three tips for diffusing tension when discussing controversial topics or in tense situations. 

State Some Ground Rules First

If you’re about to sit down with someone and have a conversation that you know could go downhill, or can be helpful to state some ground rules ahead of time about what will and will not be tolerated as part of your conversation. Especially if you’ve had issues speaking with this person in a productive manner in the past, setting up these ground rules can help you both to remain pleasant and help you know when the conversation may stop being productive. 

Some of the ground rules that you might want to have for tough conversations could include things like no name calling, not raising your voices, participating in active listening, committing to not cut each other off while talking, and more. Ground rules like these should prove to help keep conversations much more civil. 

Use Appropriate Body Language

The body language that you have when in a conversation with someone can play a big role in how your interaction goes. If you’re putting out body language that appears heated or threatening, as might happen when interacting with police officers or others that you’re potentially nervous around, your negative body language could be making things worse. So to help you have positive interactions with law enforcement and others, you should seek to always use appropriate body language.

To do this, you’ll want to not only avoid negative body language like rolling your eyes or crossing your arms and legs across your body, but you can also have inviting and non-threatening body language. Doing things like facing your body toward the person you’re speaking with, keeping your hands and arms relaxed, and looking at them when you’re speaking to one another can all help to ease tension and make both parties feel more relaxed. 

Encourage People To Consider Alternate Perspectives

In many situations, people can get so stuck in their own ways of thinking that it’s impossible to have a conversation that allows them to be open-minded or non-defensive. So if you’re still wanting to speak or interact with this person, one thing you can try is to ask them questions that might get them thinking about things a little differently. 

One question you might want to pose is to ask them what else something could mean that they assume they already know the answer to or the reason behind. By practicing coming up with alternative solutions, both you and the other party may come to find that there are other ways of thinking about something and common ground to be found. 

If you want to be able to have conversations and interactions with people involving less tension, consider using the tips mentioned above to help you achieve this goal. 

Related Posts