A Simple Way to Disengage from Stressful Conversations

This is how you stay away from stressful conversations.

I started using a technique taught by Eckhart Tolle on how to disengage from negative conversation (The YouTube video is embedded below the post). See if the technique can help you deal with negative conversations.

A negative conversation is one where the other side is shouting, sarcastic, too aggressive, etc. Anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes you must sit and listen, even if you are uncomfortable. I usually end up getting really stressed, angry, resistant, and fight back. Even if I do not fight back, I feel so stressed from holding myself back from getting back at the other person. After that, I stay stressed and feeling negative for hours and even sometimes days because of this negative encounter. Very unpleasant.

Here is the technique and it has worked well for me so far:

  • The beginning is the same: I get a call from someone very angry, starts making unrealistic and inaccurate statements about how he was done wrong by me. He or she starts using sarcasm, about how we are not treating him with respect. Then the person might start exaggerating and misinterpreting things, etc., etc.
  • So, I get immediately worked up, feeling angry, uncomfortable. I can feel it in my whole body, but mainly my stomach.
  • If I am lucky, I remember to disengage as soon as I hear negative beginnings of a conversation.
  • Once I am aware and observe what is happening, I can make a choice on how to proceed.
  • Eckhart suggests you choose not to react. At all. Do not try to calm the other person down. Do not try to attack them back. Just listen and observe what the other person is saying and doing.
  • Do not respond by resisting or calming them down or getting defensive.
  • What I do is disengage. Just observe.
  • At one point the other person will ask if you are still there. Just say yes. I am listening.
  • Usually the other side “wakes up” and stops the ranting. Even if he does not, you have decided not to be part of the negative conversation.
  • So the call ends, you are still cool, and you can take note of the conversation and the action you need to take later based on it.
  • And you go back to whatever you were doing.

This worked for me. How do you deal with the negative conversation?

Here is the link to the video

Comments (7)

  1. Good question. I like to bring up three tips I leared from Dan OConnor: 1 do not take the bait. Meaning do not get defensive or fight back. 2 dont reward their behavior by showing them that their behavior resulted in you giving them whay they want. 3 keep repeating your tactical objective response no matter how worked up they get. For example tell them what options they have in this situation. What do you think?

    1. You can also reflect back your observations instead of responding to the content, e.g. “You seem angry”, or more mildly, “It seems like you feel very strongly about this”. This gives them the opportunity to explain further, or to reflect on their own behavior. Decent people may calm down, however this can escalate certain CDM types – though they usually stop eventually if they don’t get an emotional reaction from you.

      You can also thank them. “I appreciate the opportunity to hear your perspective”. In this way you show that you are listening without agreeing or disagreeing with their viewpoint.

  2. At the Beginning i’m grateful to Mr. Ammar Mango for this article posted on the site.
    After this, I want to say that this problem about people who speak by this way through phone call, it’s comblecated point, so this article give a simble solution about how act with this people.
    simply, it’s great and useful work.

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