Words Don't Matter as Much as Vocal Tone/Volume, Facial Expression and Body Language
When you talk with others, your words themselves comprise only 7% of the overall message. Your vocal qualities (tone, volume, word choice) make up 38%; and, your body language (posture, facial expression) make up 55%. So, if your words say one thing, and your voice/face/body say another then folks will (and should!) believe their eyes and not their ears.
What does this mean for you? Whenever you try to start a conversation when you're still experiencing emotional flooding (e.g., anger, fear) then you're really not ready to connect with another person. These fight-or-flight-or-freeze emotions are all about self-protection where you'll be trying to win and be right (and thus, the other person must be wrong and lose) at all costs. You cannot have a discussion while emotions are flying high. The other person will (correctly) read that this is about right/wrong, win/lose and not about an amiable discussion and will either go silent (to dead-end the affront quickly) or join in the emotional escalation to see if he can be right/win instead. There is no place to go with this!
Your Next Best Steps
- When you're emotionally flooded give yourself a time-out on the problem. This doesn't mean giving others the silent treatment (all other topics and activities are still approachable), but rather agreeing to put off discussions of a specific issue until an agreed upon date/time - typically several hours or a couple of days later.
- Because words contain so little of the message, don't use texting or emailing to communicate about important, emotionally-charged issues. Texting and emailing don't allow for the needed interactions to clarify misunderstandings. What do you think the chances are that what you intended in a message is exactly what the other person interpreted when they read the message? I'd bet on 0%! If someone starts one of these conversations via text/email, be the one to respond by phone, or in-person, to shift the dynamics.
- When you're done talking, if you and the other person both feel deeply heard then you have accomplished much. If at the end you know what the other person wants/needs and how he is feeling, then you both will feel more connected. This doesn't mean that you agree with him; it only means that you can see how he sees it - that his way also has merit.