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Managing Your Emotions When Things Get Tense

Updated: May 19, 2020

When you learn how to manage your emotions, you will resist the temptation to indulge in negative emotions, you won't deny or repress your emotions, and you'll create richer relationships with the people you are engaged with.

Handling Yourself

Think of a conflict situation where your strongest feelings get in the way. Ask yourself these questions and then make some goals to aim for.  Print out the questions below and put the answers in writing. Putting words to paper helps you pinpoint and clarify your thoughts and emotions, so you can learn how to take control of them and move forward in a positive direction.

Five Questions to Ask Yourself:

When you're angry, hurt, or frightened …

  1. Why am I feeling so angry, hurt, or frightened?

  2. What do I want to change?

  3. What do I need in order to let go of this feeling?

  4. Whose problem is this, really? How much is mine? How much is theirs?

  5. What is the unspoken message I infer from the situation? (e.g. they don’t like me, they don’t respect me.)

Five Goals

In communicating your emotions, what actions or words will you use in order to…

  1. Avoid the desire to punish or blame.

  2. Improve the situation.

  3. Communicate your feelings appropriately.

  4. Improve the relationship and increase communication.

  5. Avoid repeating the same situation.

If communication is not appropriate, what other action can you take?

Handling Others

People’s behavior can be frustrating, but it might have a legitimate purpose. Everyone is looking for ways to belong, feel significant, and protect themselves. When people feel a threat to their self-esteem, a downward spiral begins. Some people behave obstructively, trying to gain a feeling of belonging and significance.

How you respond can determine how entrenched they become. Without supporting destructive beliefs and alienating patterns of reaction, you need to break them out of the spiral.  You can do this by acknowledging their feelings and supporting their legitimate needs.



We didn’t make this stuff up. The skills in this article are based on over 30 years of experience in conflict resolution and psychology. The Conflict Resolution Network (CRN) is a resource center that offers high-quality free and low-cost training materials for educational programs that move people and systems away from adversarial approaches towards cooperation and sustainable solutions. For more information and access to their absolutely incredible (and extraordinarily accessible) resources, we recommend you visit

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