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NextGen Magazine


What to Do in the Face of an Aggressive Conversation

Jason Wong
Published Date:
Mar 18, 2016

Responding to CriticismWhen it comes to business, it’s important to be passionate, but also to be levelheaded and rational. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, and when something as important as your career is on the line, interactions can turn ugly. So what do you do if you find yourself facing someone who’s gotten too hot under the collar? The Harvard Business Review has some suggestions on steps to take to deescalate the situation.

Acknowledge your part. It’s possible that something you said set the other person off; perhaps through your tone or poor word choice, they may have interpreted your words as an attack on them. If that’s the case, apologize and emphasize that you don’t want things to be antagonistic.

Show your commitment. Reassure the other person that you both have a stake in the project/firm, and let them know that while you may have concerns that need to be addressed, you are aware of their concerns and want to address them as well.

Refocus the discussion. When angry, it’s easy to see every negative thing as monumental. Make sure you can’t be misinterpreted by slowing down your speech and measuring your tone. Focus on what you and the other person agree on – odds are, you’re 90% in agreement.