5 things to remember when the situation is heated
As we walk through our days, occasionally we encounter a fire. Sometimes it’s a little tiny fire and sometimes it’s huge. Sometimes its the result of our own carelessness and sometimes it had nothing to do with us. But, regardless of who started it, the fire exists.
So what do you do when you encounter a fire?
That depends. Different fires require different strategies.
But I’ll tell you what you don’t do. You don’t throw gasoline on that fire.
Amateur firefighters like us may disagree on the best ways to put out a fire, but I’m confident we’d at least agree on avoiding the gas option.
Because it will only make things worse.
In this situation, this seems obvious. But when we transfer the same line of thinking into our relational fires, we sometimes forget to do this.
In the midst of heated situations, it’s important to make sure we don’t “throw gas” on an already highly-fueled situation. It would serve us well to be appropriate and kind and work on putting the fire out instead of making it bigger.
Easier said than done, huh?
Sometimes I succeed at this, and sometimes I fail. I’ve been working hard in recent years to get a better handle on my gas-tossing tendencies. :)
In the midst of heated situations, it’s important not to throw gas on an already highly-fueled situation.
Here are a few suggestions that have been helpful for me to remember when faced with relational fires at work or in my personal life. These are the things that I tell myself each time. Hopefully they’ll help you, also.
When the situation is heated:
1. Remember: you can’t control them, but you can control yourself.
We sometimes get frustrated because of the other person’s actions. But you can’t control that, ultimately. You can only control you. Acknowledging that will help you approach the situation differently. You can’t blame them for how you act. The fact that you’re feeling heat does not justify you creating more. Own your own behavior.
2. Be calm.
Such simple words, but such profound impact. When we’re in a heated situation, the temptation is to raise our voice, lean in to the person, speak more quickly, etc. It’s typically a good idea to do the opposite on each of those. Lower your voice. Slow down. Make sure your body language isn’t aggressive. It’s amazing how contagious “calm” can be. It may or may not cause the other person to be calm, but it will definitely help you make better decisions.
3. Ask yourself, “5 years from now, how will I wish I had handled this?”
When I’m near a fire, it’s amazing how many stupid things I come up with to say or do. I’ve said things in heated conversations that I regretted years later. It might be good for us to learn from those times. One day, you’re going to look back on this present fire and think about how you acted in the midst of it. What will you wish you’d done? Act accordingly, even if it’s hard.
4. Don’t spread the fire.
It’s important that you don’t grab bits of the fire and spread them around in different places. Before you know it, you’ll have multiple fires all over the place. Don’t go around talking about your fire to people who have no business knowing. It’s not beneficial, and it might work it’s way back to the source and make things worse than before. Just keep it contained and work to resolve it.
5. Be honest, but kind.
In an attempt to put out the fire, we might be tempted to take the easy way out and be dishonest about our feelings. Don’t do it. You have to be honest. Harmony implies conflict. You won’t do yourself any good in the long run by hiding your feelings or ignoring troubling situations. You have to work on them. But you can always be nice. That person who seems upset is a person who deserves respect.
Love is the way. You can be honest and true and not hate. :)
Good luck as you fight your present and future fires, friend!