Seth Godin’s post today can be easily applied to conversations and emails between parents:
“If you escalate (cut off in traffic, angry at the gate agent, frustrated at your boss), you’ve just added (negative) energy to a conversation.
If you escalate (high-pitched enthusiasm, a hug, encouraging words), you’ve just added (positive) energy to a conversation.
Once the energy is added, it has to go somewhere. Often, the person you’re engaging with throws it right back, or even increases it. A talented, mature person might take your negative energy and de-escalate it, or even swallow it and permit the conversation to calm down or end. But don’t count on it.
Sure, you can ‘win’ a conversation by overwhelming your opponent with energy they can’t handle. But of course, they’re not your opponent and you don’t really win. Being aware of the energy you add or take from interactions is a sophisticated technique that radically changes the outcomes of the conversations that fill your day. Add the good stuff, absorb the bad stuff and focus on the outcomes, not the bravado.”
I see examples of escalated conversations every day, usually negative and often off-the-charts so. It’s satisfying to occasionally see the other party de-escalate, disengage, or somehow let the negative energy go and not feel obligated to respond in kind. It’s not easy, but that talent comes with practice. And I know the person who has mastered that talent of letting go feels better and has improved his or her own life by doing so.