© 2015 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM. World Rights Reserved.
Ever find yourself in a conversation that suddenly became a tense mess, and there you were, suddenly in Argument Stress? They said something that stung you, and you said something to try to de-sting things, and they took your attempt as contempt and another sting? But then, they said, YOU started it with that stinging comment you made, before they said that thing that stung you. So who started it?
Well hands up, anyone who hates being in one of these sudden mixups! Hands up, anyone who hates unpleasantness! These conversations hurt! And who did start it, anyway? You think they started it with the sting that hurt you, but they think you started it with the sting you didn’t intend as a sting, which made them reply from hurt, with the sting you thought they started it with. All clear now??
As a stress management expert, my goal is to help people switch into a positive living model I call Upbeat Living. In this way of living, we use positive tools to move out of negative thoughts and situations. We accumulate less stress, get sick less, get promoted faster in business, and have increasingly good health and energy.
Often, you can’t even tell how it started, or who started it, but it’s important to bring it down and clear it, when possible. In business, these arguments or mixups can be very damaging. Here’s an example of an incident that happened to a friend, “Susan”.
Susan was at Friday happy hour, with a dozen friendly colleagues. Of course, it was not possible to hear every word everyone said. After all, it was happy hour. Susan heard one colleague, “Fran”, say with a giggle, “[mmpht mmpht] because I’m Mexican!” But Fran had an Anglo surname. Thinking Fran might have a Mexican parent or grandparent, Susan leaned toward Fran and asked pleasantly something like, “Fran, did you just say you were ‘Mexican’?” Uh oh! In Arizona, it’s not always “good” to be “Mexican”, especially if an Anglo-looking person is asking about you. And Susan is Anglo.
Fran cocked her head to the side and stiffened. Several colleagues leaned forward and attacked Susan, accusing her of calling Fran “Mexican”. My friend was in deep trouble, now accused of being openly racist. My friend kept saying, “Fran called herself ‘Mexican’—I’m just asking her about it.” Fortunately for Susan, the group had already been drinking for awhile, and they soon got bored of accusing her and just let the “argument” drop. Susan will never know how much social damage was done by the mistaken impression that she was somehow belittling a woman for “being Mexican”, when the woman had described herself that way. It would have been impossible to clarify things any better than Susan did. She kept it simple, stayed pleasant and smiling, and repeated her explanation calmly. But Fran clearly felt attacked or confronted. Certainly, Susan certainly felt attacked, and unfairly so. So who started this tension? Who was responsible for the damage being done to Susan? Fran was cool to Susan for the next couple of years that they worked together.
I’ve had a few arguments with people, but I never carry a grudge. You know why? While you’re carrying a grudge, they’re out dancing.
~ Buddy Hackett
Sometimes a conversation starts to go wrong, and it’s impossible to tell how it started. When Argument Stress happens, the most important thing is actually to give up trying to figure out who started it or how it developed. Rather, it’s crucial to maintain your poise and your smile, and speak in a light and pleasant way. Keep your replies simple. If you can stay light and easygoing, people will often simply forget an accusatory or unpleasant conversation. Strangely, if you let it go, they probably will also. Don’t carry any grudges.
With focus on the light and the positive, you may be able to be the one who ends it. Now that’s Upbeat Living!
- Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert and award-winning author. She also is an ordained minister and has a natural healing practice. Among her books are: Discover The Secret Energized You (http://tinyurl.com/b44v3br),and Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core, Second Edition(http://tinyurl.com/mqg3uvc ). Her newest book is Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine. Sacred Meditation and Peace Within are both available through her office. Just email SacredMeditation@kebba.com.
- Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.