A really easy way to stand out these days is by having emotional control. Everyone has an opinion and even if you do not agree, it does not mean that thought needs to be entertained. I have always admired those who have the power to remain unbothered, because it is a super power easier said than done. One simple way to do this is by mastering how you react in conversation.
The art of conversation consists in the exercise of two fine qualities. You must originate, and you must sympathise; you must possess at the same time the habit of communicating and of listening attentively.The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness by Florence Hartley, 1860
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Mastering the art of conversation is a delicate dance of constantly being on your toes. Especially if you are having a true dialogue where you are both mindful and in the moment of what each other is saying, actively listening.
What does it mean to be polite?
Being polite in one word: kindness. Kindness extends through cultures and species. I am definitely quick to an instant comeback when someone is critical of who I am. Turning that around to act positively is not the intrinsic instinct.
I did a social experiment for the past 3 weeks with the rudest person I know haha.
This sounds awful, but my husband said, “If you can be polite with him, you can be polite with anyone.” This was a true test of my patience. Don’t try this at home, kids. This person is not particularly rude intentionally. I just want to point this out.
…a gentleman, one who, never insults anyone unintentionally.Oscar Wilde
This person is much older and their mind is going. Being forgiving and having tons of patience was the heart and soul of this social experiment.
If this was a competition, I would have lost so badly. I did very well, but also felt like I didn’t win which is interesting.
A little background of how this person is is important to the events.
I have a loved one who is pretty much family and I see them multiple times a week for the past 8 years. We butt heads, but he likes to randomly start fights, because he likes to prove he is right. (This is nothing new in the world haha.) He’s the kind of person who will take out his phone while he is driving and swerve on the road to google something just to prove a point.
I’m not going to lie. I rip the phone out of his hands or make him pull over, because it is clearly extremely selfish, and not to mention, unsafe. Now you understand a bit of who I’m dealing with. On top of that, I have zero patience. All of these factors are to be considered when carrying on with the rest of this post.
The whole object of the experiment was to not interrupt when he spoke. But while he spoke, I also counted how many times he interrupted.
All throughout the three weeks, I kept conscious tabs in my weekly agenda recording it all. This sounds odd, but I am very visual.
Each morning there would be an average three of his offences and zero of mine. In the evening, there were 5-15 offences — sometimes more. The reason evenings were an exponential amount was because our encounters were lengthier.
I’m pointing this out, because it was so difficult to master emotional control. Especially as an extremely expressive person.
Out of the whole three weeks, I interrupted him twice – on accident, stopped and excused myself – but he did not once apologise or excuse himself or acknowledge any type of self awareness of what he was doing, how he acted.
It was quite eye opening how unconscious people are when making blunders and making someone feel uncomfortable or uneasy.
I felt insurmountably disrespected rightly so, but I choose to put up with this person. No matter how much I also tried to limit contact, they would bother me at least three times each (minimum) evening in my office to tell me something that is useless and [attempt to – because I don’t let him] waste an average of 20 minutes of my morning every single day of these three weeks.
What I learnt and how I handled the impoliteness:
It doesn’t feel good to be right. But it sure does feel good to know I have emotional control over my words and actions. Social intelligence is imperative to communicating. Why? We do it 75% of our day. And 90% of what we express is unspoken.
Being kind, patient and forgiving is a matter of taking a few seconds or a few minutes. I had to take a deep breath quietly at times when I felt like everything I was saying — positive or fact — was being challenged. It was too easy to turn each conversation into a fight. Sometimes even a screaming match.
Taking action sometimes means doing nothing.
I had to take a few seconds to breathe and ask myself, “Who will this benefit in the long run?” Letting things go is not only the mature thing to do, but the sane thing to do.
I feel like I haven’t fought this hard in a while to zen out, take a deep breath for a quick meditation session in the moment and practice gratitude. Wow this was easier said than done. I probably can officially teach anger management now haha.
Most people have a tendency to express disproportionately negative output rather than positive.
It can show up as cursing at traffic in the car, standing in line with a frown or readily discontent words or carping about unforeseen circumstances out of one’s control.
Any time a person says something negative, say something positive to counter that. It does not have to be complicated. For instance, if someone sees a person doing well and comments on a rather small detail about the way they present themselves, this is obviously a projection.
“They just hit a million dollar goal? They wouldn’t have done it if they didn’t have access to X,Y and Z.”
In lieu of, “I’m glad they reached their goal! That’s impressive. I wonder what they’re going to achieve next.”
Listen when people are saying something negative. They might be upset with something else or are projecting a personal issue they have with themselves.
Reading their body language, or really understanding what they are thinking within the underlying context of their words will make your reaction more valuable. Referring back to the step of countering with something positive will make them rethink their thoughts. It’s a strange sort of empathy we give to them by helping them consciously see a situation in a better light.
In summation: How to have emotional control no matter what
- Take a moment to not react to triggers.
- Ask “Who will this benefit in the long run?”
- Practice gratitude.
- Emit positivity only.
- Listen better by understanding people’s underlying complaints and empathise.
All you have to do is present a glass to someone and they will express whether it is half empty or half full. Whichever side you choose, make sure it is one that benefits both of you in the bigger picture.
To master emotional control, social intelligence and connecting better with people, sign up now to join an etiquette course with me personally to guide you. You will be able to handle any situation personal, social or professional with these powerful skills.
Thank you so much for taking time to read the end of this post. I hope you find some inspiration in this and feel free to share with your friends as a free way to help my blog grow. Your support is endlessly appreciated.