How to Diffuse a Negative Situation (for Business Owners)

As a business owner, you are faced with a variety of difficulties on a day-to-day basis; you’re basically the business-equivalent of a superhero. Sometimes, though, things can get out of hand, and it can leave you in some uncomfortable situations. Once that situation arises, and it will, because we’re all human with human emotions and can’t please everyone, all of your other tasks and jobs seem to fade away, because suddenly, all that matters is simmering everything down and getting things to normal. Here are some helpful tips on how you, the business owner, can diffuse a negative situation.


One of the most important and easiest ways to diffuse a bad situation is to listen to the other person’s grievances. Most times, they just want to be heard. Make sure you are using active listening cues, such as nodding, affirming noises (such as “uh-huh,” “mmm-hmm,” or other grunts that let the person know that you’re retaining their information), and the like. Typically, people will simmer and fizzle out once they realize that they’re actually being heard and their words mean something.

Keep calm.

It’s only natural that our “fight or flight” takes over when someone is raising their voices at us, and we want to respond with similar behavior, but it’s important that you respond to this person’s hostility with a warm, neutral tone and open body language — that is, leaving your chest exposed, rather than crossing your arms and forming a physical barrier between the two of you. If they don’t feel physically shut out, then they may take a breath and start over, more calmly.

Address issues.

Rather than confront them for coming at you verbally, as a lot of people feel they need to do, address their concerns using “I” statements, and sincerely apologize when necessary. Never use a “you” statement, because you’ll sound confrontational and their mood will take a nosedive towards infuriated. Example: ”I am so very sorry that this has happened to you; I will do everything in my power to fix this. How can I help?”

It’s not an exact science on how to deal with human behavior, because everyone reacts differently to different situations, but if you remember to speak calmly, listen, and apologize, then you should be able to diffuse just about any negative situation. However, should you find yourself feeling physically threatened, then take your safety into account and contact security, another employee, or the police.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *