When conflict in conversation spins out of control, bad things happen. Relationships can be irreparably harmed and the goodwill to work together can be destroyed. To avoid an escalation of emotions and extreme reactions, the best leaders “name the behavior.”
This is a simple yet powerful way to diffuse conflict and allow others to regain control of their emotions and actions. Essentially, “naming the behavior” is an explicit statement of observation. “I see you are angry.” “I am noticing that you are raising your voice.” “It looks to me as though you’re irritated.” Put into words exactly what you see, but say it in a detached and objective way. Then give yourself and others some space and silence.
You’ll find “naming” lets the air out of the reactive behavior and disarms the bomb of emotion quickly. By the way, this works with your own emotions, as well. When you name your emotions (“I am disgusted.” “This is frustrating.” “My jealousy is getting to me.”), it takes their power away. Emotions seem less potent and disruptive. I wish I had a name for that!