“I see your point. Please don’t withdraw. Should we take a break?”
“I don’t want you to feel attacked. When I feel passionate about something, I might sound angry. But I’m not angry at you.”
“My reaction was too extreme. Sorry. Let me start again and stay cool and collected.”
As Robin Williams said, “I’m sorry. If you were right, I’d agree with you.”
People who withdraw suddenly often do so because they feel attacked and overwhelmed. They leave because they can’t handle any more what they feel as an assault. If you persist in passionately clarifying your position, that will probably be perceived by them as too much.
In order to have an effective discussion, it’s important to back off until both people can calm down. Nothing can be achieved when someone is on the defensive. There must be some compassion and openness to have a fruitful conversation.
One of the best ways to keep the spirit of humanity and compassion in a discussion is to keep a sense of perspective about your frustrations and your life. Keeping things in perspective allows us to laugh at ourselves while also having compassion for ourselves and others.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD