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Published September 7, 2018

Emotional outbreaks in the discussion

  • Remain calm if there are emotional outbreaks. They are often important points in which the discussion deepens.
  • Say that you can see the discussion evokes strong emotions. Stress that bringing up different emotions is important so that you will be able to better understand each other and the issue you are discussing. “I can see that this topic evokes strong emotions. It is good that they are brought up because it helps us understand this issue better. Let’s try to talk in peace by allowing room for all kinds of experiences.”
  • Show the person overtaken by emotion that you have noticed his/her reaction. “I can see this matter is important for you. It is good that you bring up how you feel about it.”
  • Allow equal space for all participants to talk about how they feel. “What about the others? What kind of feelings do you have about this?”
  • If the emotional outbreak seems to affect the discussion, stop the discussion and give the participants a break. During the break, you can talk to the person who was overtaken by emotion. “I think we are in deep waters now. I suggest we have a break and continue the discussion after that.”
  • If the emotional outbreak is targeted at you as the discussion leader, ask the participant to tell you about his/her reaction in more detail. “Tell me more about what you find difficult in my actions in this situation? I can then try to clarify what it is about from my point of view.”

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