When someone pushes your buttons, the best thing you can do is let their verbal attack hang in the air. Say nothing. This doesn’t mean that you’ll ignore it forever. It means that for now, the conversation is over. You’ll continue the conversation later, when you are calmer and so are they. Take a look at the confrontation between co-workers Mike and Steve:
Mike: Steve, that isn’t the correct way to do that. Here, let me show you how.
Steve: I’m not listening to you. You’re an idiot. I can’t believe they haven’t fired you yet. You’re constantly messing up and I don’t want your advice!
Mike: (holds extended, silent eye contact with Steve), says nothing, and walks away.
The attack seems to be uncalled for. Clearly they have challenges together, and clearly Steve is completely out of line. What will happen if Mike fights back? More fighting. Professionally (and personally) a very volatile and dangerous situation will occur. Picking your battles is a sign of strength. The next day Mike can approach Steve about this conversation, but now is not the time.
Take the high road in situations such as this one. It will save you from saying something you’ll regret.
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