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Beware the Escalating Conversaton

Ed Drozda
Ed Drozda

Social media is a breeding ground for the "escalating conversation". Escalating conversations result when people lose sight of their intent and resort to slinging copious amounts of vitriol to make their point. Before long it's like playing that old telephone game- the original topic has been forgotten and the one-upmanship battle is raging furiously. But escalating conversations are not confined to the virtual world; we hear them in the workplace too and they are not doing anyone any good.

You probably noticed that escalating conversations and silos are kindred spirits. There's nothing like disputed turf to get the "my stuff is better than your stuff" talk flowing. Conversations that were meant to solve problems are now creating them.

Plain and simple, escalating conversations are worthless conversations. These are not debates where ideas are challenged and flexed. These are conversations where one side battles the other for superiority and when pushed far enough, the acid being tossed about is enough to burn a hole in a battle ship. Once a conversation begins to escalate it becomes more and more difficult to get it back to a useful dialogue. The key is to see it coming or take steps to avoid it.

Body Language

One of the first signs of impending escalation is body language. One or more participants appears withdrawn, saying little or nothing. This may evolve into fidgeting and ultimately the gasket blows.

Button Pushing

People are funny; some of us like to push other people's buttons. What's that all about? If you're looking to escalate a conversation, push away but remember, the response you get will not provide the answers you need.

It's Emotional

Emotions and human interaction, what a combination. The thing is emotions are volatile, they change, often quickly. More often than not when we are looking to resolve a problem we are looking for something that will last. As much as emotions are an integral part of us, they really don't help us in situations like these. If emotions are running high, allow a cool down period so that conversation can be effective rather than escalating out of control.

There are many signs that a conversation is escalating. Do you notice them? Do you take action to prevent it or are you an instigator? Escalating conversations are not the stuff that success is made of. You do have a choice to make.

Image Credit: Monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images
Ed Drozda
Ed Drozda Member
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