To escalate or not to escalate? You have more options than you think.

Communication catch
When someone throws a ball at you, what do you do?
Chances are you catch it.
And if you toss it back, chances are you toss it back in the same way they threw it to you. If they toss the ball gently, you toss it back gently. If they toss it to you hard, you toss it back hard. If they toss it so hard you think they’re trying to hurt you, you just might throw it back hard enough to hurt them – and a friendly game of catch becomes a vicious game of hardball.

Communication is like playing catch
You probably automatically catch every conversational ball you’re thrown, and throw each one back in the same way you get them.

Sometimes that works – and sometimes it doesn’t.

When someone gets bossy, it’s tempting to resist or placate. When someone insults you, it’s tempting to judge them or allow yourself to be wounded by them. If someone makes a mountain out of a molehill, it’s tempting to treat it like the mountain they say it is.

You have more options than you think.

A plethora of response choices
When someone gets bossy, you could:
Deescalate: “I’ll consider your suggestions.”
Question their assumptions: “It sounds like you assume I will do it your way.”
Inquire into their motives: “It sounds like you’re concerned this won’t get done.”

When someone insults you, you could:
Indicate how their words impact you: “Ouch.”
Ask if they intended to come across as they did: “That remark sounded like a put-down. Did you intend it that way?”
Praise them: “I’m sorry you don’t like my suggestion. I find your suggestions to be very useful.”
Ignore the insult and address the issue: “What don’t you like about my idea?”

When someone makes a mountain out of a molehill you could:
Talk about it like the molehill you think it is: “Let’s discuss this when we both get the time.”

Reasonableness is your best revenge
Some of these responses may not carry the satisfaction of slamming a communication hardball back at the person who originally tossed it at you. When someone aggresses toward you, the temptation is to aggress back. But true power is the power to choose your own response – one that will work. When someone is unreasonable, your reasonableness is your best revenge.

Learn more about how to handle communication hardballs at:

Author's Bio: 

Meryl Runion, the Official Guide To Communication Skills

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Meryl Runion, the Official Guide To Communication Skills