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| Guest Post: Tips for Keeping it Cool as it Heats up

Zev Stub    
Wednesday, 11 July 3:33 PM

By Hadassah Fidler

As temperatures rise so can our tempers. A number of studies have backed up the commonly known phenomena that as the city heats up our patience lowers. Conflicts of all types escalate, who wants to protest in the cold and wet winter?  Do we have more fights with our children about sitting in front of screens when the sun is shining outside, than when it is dark and cold? When we are hot and bothered we tend to snap more easily and deal with conflicts less effectively. So what can we do to keep our cool as the heat rises?

Try to keep cool

As much as you can, keep hydrated and in shade. There is no better antidote to a rising temper and frustration to take a little time out with a cool drink and a good book. However, this option is rarely open to all of us as we battle the hot traffic home from work or deal with children requiring our attention. If you can, do take a bottle of water with you wherever you go, as even the conscious sipping from the water bottle can help your body and mind turn it down a notch.

Take a step away

William Ury award-winning author and co-founder Harvard Program on Negotiation talks about the idea of “going to the balcony” just taking a step away from the situation mentally and physically to give yourself a breather. It is not always possible but if you can actually take a physical step away, take it. You can ask the person you are in an argument with if they can just give you a minute to think about it and walk a little away and allow yourself some breathing space. In that time you can work out what you want your response to be rather than just reacting.

Respond don’t react

When something happens to annoy us, we generally react to what has happened, reactions are usually instinctive, defensive and sometimes aggressive, for instance when your partner tells you that you are late to pick them up, your reaction could be yelling at them why you are late (traffic, cleaning up the mess that was left in the office by the intern or any other reason). A response is more thought out. What do I want to achieve from this conversation? I might want to achieve understanding on why I am late and a better relationship with my partner. Once you change from reaction to response you are more in control of the situation.

Listen and clarify

Many times the source of a heated argument is not the subject matter but the communication surrounding it. What seems the most simple of interactions, listening to someone and understanding what they are saying, is actually one of the most complicated. Even without language & cultural barriers to communication, there are obstacles. I overheard a conversation between a parent and a child about how embarrassed the son was when his mom picked him up from football. The mom was clearly hurt and said “Well walk home then” her son replied “you never understand what I mean”.  How many times have you been in a conversation where one person said, “that was not what I meant/intended”. One way to resolve these miscommunications is to listen and clarify back to the other person what you understood he/she said. For instance, if your son tells you he was embarrassed when you came to pick him up. You could check with him which bit of you picking him up was the embarrassing bit. Was it the big hug you gave him, the car you picked him up in the clothes you were wearing, or that he doesn’t want others to know that his parent is picking him up. Once you show the other person that you have listened to their side and really understand what they are saying you take the heat out of the argument and it becomes a discussion.

Know when to let it go

Some arguments are worth it and some are not. Check your ego. Check your internal temperature. Is this a fight worth having? Are external factors such as the heat outside and stress from other areas of your life influencing you? Work out if this is an argument you want to have. If it is, then use all the tools at your disposal to manage it well, if not, then in the famous words of Elsa Disney princess “let it go...”

Hadassah Fidler

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