Staying Calm/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on March 31, 2019

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A few days ago, the 9 Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff, called for him to resign his position on the Committee in response to the Mueller report. A brief view of the Schiff response may be found at youtube.com (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6fKbEqurZA). The notable quality of the Schiff response is how he got his points across while staying quite calm and in control. Thomas Jefferson once said the following: “Nothing gives one so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled…”

In a dispute, the only result accomplished by anger is an escalation of conflict. Once anger takes over a party’s mind, it forecloses the ability to understand the other party’s position. Listening will then often serve no purpose other than trying to understand a variant position for the sole purpose of responding. Trying to remain calm in a dispute is not easy but it is an essential posture.

What can one do if they feel the onset of anger? Among many suggestions, the following two are most practical and doable. Taking a deep breath or counting to 10 before speaking is old, but potent, advice. You need to change the tempo of the discussion and regain your composure. A second suggestion is to “own” your part of the dispute. Do a quick reality test and decide if/how your actions led to the growth of the dispute. Showing anger will not lead to a positive outcome. Being in control, and staying clear of personal recriminations is a preferred route to Win-Win. Mediate don’t litigate.

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