January 29, 2015

Do You Elevate or Escalate?


The unfortunate has happened: Your client is angry, your boss is disappointed, your colleagues are uncooperative, your kid’s teacher sends you an irate email, your spouse is annoyed with you, and your mother guilt-trips you. Hopefully not all at the same time. But on any given day, situations happen and conflict shows up. What do you do?

If you react like most people when they’re negatively triggered, you do one of the following: Shut down, lash out, get defensive, get vengeful, withdraw, avoid, cry, sulk, scream, panic and attack!!!

TAKE A DEEP, LONG, SLOW BREATH. Then ask yourself the question: When stressful situations strike — do I choose to AMPLIFY (add fuel to the fire) or PACIFY (act calm and cool)? Do I choose to ESCALATE (raise the tension level) or ELEVATE (rise above the noise)?

Remember this smart, simple formula: SITUATION + RESPONSE = OUTCOME

You can’t control the situation, but you can take complete charge of your response to the situation, and THAT will produce the outcome you desire.

So the next, inevitable time you find yourself in a sticky situation:

  1. Take a DEEP, LONG, SLOW BREATH – Repeat for several minutes in a quiet, calm (physical or emotional) space.
  2. FOCUS on your desirable OUTCOME – Ask yourself ‘what do I want?’ and ‘how do I get there from here?’
  3. ELEVATE and don’t ESCALATE – Rise above the din, imagine yourself on TV, and bring out the best in yourself and others.
  4. PACIFY and don’t AMPLIFY – Take it down a few notches, empathize (feel the other’s pain), listen (let people get it out), be calm.
  5. RESPOND and don’t REACT – Stop and think to gain some clarity. Be proactive – seek resolution, ask helpful questions, apologize, admit, acknowledge, be defenseless, and offer to take favorable action that will lead to mutual benefit.


Lee Broekman is a communication coach and trainer. Her company Organic Communication, brings interactive, never boring, always edifying keynote presentations, retreats, seminars and CLEs to your firm or organization.