Staying Calm While Under Attack

 In Communication, Relationships

I was at a networking meeting the other day and had a chance to witness a very interesting exchange between two people. We were going around the room to give each person a chance to comment about their work. One person was describing what they do as a consultant and used the word compassion. After they finished, a second person politely but firmly said they had a problem with the word compassion because they felt it implied pity and the notion of looking down on another person. I waited, interested to see how the first person would respond to this “attack.” I listened in awe as they calmly agreed with the other person that people might misinterpret the meaning of the word and how he appreciated her thoughts and opinion. I was very impressed with his understanding and sincerity.

It struck me how his ability to so calmly respond instead of getting defensive not only made the entire situation feel better for everyone else but also left me with a positive feeling about him. It made me wonder, how would I have responded? Do I act in ways that encourage people to share their opinions and feel safe? I’m sure there are many examples in my past where that has not been the case, but I am determined to keep trying to not take things personally and not get defensive even when it feels like I’m being attacked. It’s not easy and it takes effort but the benefits are well worth it.

What about you? Have you ever been inspired by another person’s behavior in a potentially charged situation? Have you found tips or tricks that help you stay calm? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.


Tina Hallis, Ph.D., is a professional speaker and consultant for The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping people and organizations fulfill their true potential using strategies from the science of Positive Psychology.

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