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Tips for Keeping Calm and Listening Positively

Control your emotions. Your emotions can block out the speaker's message. Emotional lectures or issues often make it difficult to listen effectively, since if your hot button has been pushed, you're probably missing the message. You're focused on shaking your head in disagreement with the speaker, distorting the message being delivered or simply blocking it out altogether.

Generally, our emotions are triggered to some degree when we listen to talks regarding race, religion or politics. You know best what gets you upset and excited. So the first step in controlling your emotions is to identify the issues and topics that create an emotional response in you. Emotional reactions cause objectivity to diminish. Thus, you have to be aware of those issues and topics that cause you to "lose it" -- and prepare accordingly to stay in control.

Controlling mechanisms or suggestions include the following:

Take a deep breath. Emotional issues often illicit physical responses, such as increased heart rates or higher blood pressure. Taking several slow deep breaths tends to slow the heart rate and lower the blood pressure.

Use objective questions. Try to stay away from subjective questions that may result in an emotional response, which only serves to push another emotional button.

Respect the other person's opinion. Let the speaker know that you understand his or her position on the issue. You may not agree with it, but you understand and respect his or her right to have a particular opinion.

Stay calm. Don't respond or comment while upset or angry. Little can be resolved by a sudden emotional outburst.

Understand the reasons behind the issues. A reasonable rationale for a certain position or issue can reduce the level of emotional involvement. Express your evidence or reasons for your position and understand the speaker's rationale. Look at both sides of the debate.