I stop for breakfast and hit my favorite parenting sites with a search on temper tantrums 21 months. Their advice? It is going to happen, make sure they are safe, let them work it out, help them learn communications skills to reduce their frustration and hi them when it is over so they know you still love them. Check, check, check, and check! (Instant confidence boost!). Okay, I think I am ready to go to work now.
And then it hit me. My son and I have a serious communication problem right now because he is not fully conversant in mine and I am not fully conversant in his. He thinks I am not hearing that he wants to run and I think he is not hearing that running near a busy street or on a bus are too dangerous. The reason the tactics above work is because it helps move us to a place where we can understand and really hear each other while keeping the values of love and respect up front.
And now my work brain kicks in. How many workplace conflicts are caused by people who are talking at each other and not hearing? Just because we're adults does not mean we speak the same language. Just because we speak the same language does not mean the words mean the same thing to both parties. So...can we use the values based approach and process outline above to open up a productive dialogue to reduce conflict?
How would that look? One possible value to consider, "I take pride in what I do and if I am working on teamwork I want to take pride in doing it well." Another is as simple as "I like and respect the people I work with."
Next step, when someone is over the top stressed, let them vent. Encourage a quiet area where they can do it in confidentiality. Note, problem solving at this point is useless as they are in an amigdala hijack. I recommend a nice leisurely walk or a quiet relaxing location for the vent session. The listener should be as calm as can be and not delve for info or provide solutions. De escalation is the key.
When they calm down, if they feel safe, they may say what should I do? Again, refrain from problem solving. Use open questions to discuss what other interpretations may be clogging the communication and what tweets could invite a different reaction (teaching communication skills).
Close with letting them know they are free to come back and follow up. Thank them for trusting you to be there for you. Reinforce that reducing their stress is important to you.