limits is always necessary whenever communication is disrupted and threatens to
digress. But which incidents occur frequently with communication? Above, we
have already mentioned one element which disrupts communication: Your dialog
partner has allegedly attacked you personally, verbally of course, but words
can also hit you quite hard.
Incident case 1: Your dialog partner
attacks you verbally.
How should you react?
- Let your dialog partner know that he/she has gone too far.
“Stop! This point is too personal. I would appreciate it if we
could go back to the actual topic.”
- Try to work out the
reasons for the “attack”: “It sounds as if I have
gone too far”, “Please tell me why you are so
annoyed”, “Should we talk about this before we return to
the topic we were both discussing?”
Incident case 2: Your dialog partner is
putting you under huge pressure.
“We either do it like this or we will never reach a decision”. How should you
- Ask him/her about the reasons for their behavior:
“I’m surprised by your brash behavior and I still haven't
understood the reasons for such a reaction.”
try a role reversal: “I have the impression that you don’t
really want to discuss the matter with us. You simply want us to adopt
- Or: “What can we do to find a common solution in spite of everything?”
option is to react without words: Pick up your things and move towards
the exit. This will usually trigger a reaction from your dialog
Incident case 3: Your dialog partner is
shouting at you.
This should be crystal-clear: You don’t have to put up with this. Express this
feeling loud and clear. If you don't respond to abuse, but back out instead,
it’s a sign of weakness. How should you react?
- Face up to the situation: “I’m sorry but I
don’t want to talk with you at that level. We should take a
break, postpone the meeting and get together again later.”
- Or: “Tell me why you are so irritated, and then we can discuss this topic again in peace.”
Incident case 4: Your dialog partner
doesn’t take in your line of reasoning, but keeps repeating his own arguments
and reasons over and over again.
How should you react?
- Point out that you expect an explanation regarding this way of
handling the issue: “I have heard what you have said and
understand your position. Now could you please respond to my
- Or: “What bothers you so much about my arguments that you don’t even acknowledge them?”
even more explicit: “A discussion which only revolves around your
arguments won’t lead us anywhere. I would really appreciate it if
we could stop this conversation.”
The more supposedly factual the conversation,
the more important it is that you activate your inner observer and keep in mind
the various levels of the conversation. So you will feel more confident to deal
with incident cases which occur out of the blue. You can do it!