It can be very uncomfortable when someone verbally attacks you. Luckily, there is a way to turn the conversation around without getting defensive.
The most effective way to deflect negativity and convert it into more constructive dialogue involves reframing. Reframing the issue is a tried and true negotiation technique when faced with negativity.
When someone brings up negative historical concerns, one reframing technique is to move the complainant’s focus from past wrongs to future remedies.
The first step is to acknowledge that the complaining individual has issues with past actions (without agreeing or disagreeing with that viewpoint). The second step is to focus the individual on identifying possible future remedies so that past (real or imagined) problems are not repeated.
In essence, you are saying: “Yes, I see that you are upset about things that happened in the past and I am sorry you experienced them. What can we do to avoid a similar circumstance from this point on?”
When an individual makes negative statements aimed personally at you, another reframing technique emphasizes having the complainant focus on the problem rather than on a person.
Rather than getting defensive about what is essentially a personal attack, you can choose to reinterpret the personal attack as an attack on the problem.
In essence, you are saying: “Yes, it is clear that you are very upset, and I share your concern. Let’s see if we can find a workable solution to the problem.”
The fact that the expressed concerns have been heard and acknowledged is often very gratifying to the complainant. This can calm the situation down and lay the groundwork for more cooperative and constructive interpersonal communications.
Contact me here for other reframing techniques you can use when faced with people who stone wall you, attack, or tell lies.
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