Culture Shift: How to recover from a heated argument
By Ashleigh Petersen Galen Emanuele

Culture Shift: How to recover from a heated argument

Let’s say we had a heated argument, a blowout, a bad interaction. How do we pick up the pieces, heal that relationship and move forward?

Here are five steps to pick up the pieces and go forward.

1. Reflect. Take an honest inventory of how you showed up in that interaction. Take a look at the things that you said and how you contributed to that situation. There are things that trigger you because your mom did them or they bring up memories from your past. Take ownership of how you showed up and really reflect about how did you contribute to that. What things happened that you aren’t proud of, that you wouldn’t want to repeat?

2. Extend an invitation. Assuming you want to repair this relationship, go back and invite that person to have a conversation. Be like, “Hey, that didn’t go the way that either of us liked, that didn’t feel great. Are you open to revisiting that? Can we have a conversation? Can we sort through what happened and talk about that? I’d like to hear your perspective and, obviously, I don’t want to leave things where they are.”

3. Take ownership and apologize. I think it’s great to be like, “Hey, I just need to take ownership of these things that I said, that I did.” Really take ownership of how you contributed to that situation and apologize, find areas to make amends, acknowledge the behavior you aren’t proud of.

4. Allow everybody to empty their cups. Give people an opportunity to explain themselves in a time when it’s not dialogue back and forth. If I’m coming to you and saying, “I want you to just empty your cup, everything that’s going on for you, your perspective, assumptions and feelings,” give the other person an opportunity to talk without responding, without having any rebuttals, just to hear them out. At the end of them talking, recap what you heard. When that person has finished, that gives you an opportunity to do the same thing. This gives both people a chance to be heard and listened to. It’s extremely useful for clarifying and understanding each other without having to defend, deflect or change your opinion. Just listen and feel listened to.

5. Growth. This is the opportunity for you to reflect. Now that you have a deeper understanding of each other, you’ve made some clarifications in terms of where you’re both coming from, it’s an opportunity to say, “Moving forward, how can we avoid these types of interactions? Here’s what I’m willing to do going forward, taking into account what you said.” The most important thing is don’t repeat things. It doesn’t mean anything to apologize to someone and then do the exact same thing two or three or four more times.

Galen Emanuele is a speaker and trainer on business leadership and team culture based out of Portland, Ore. Every week, Emanuele produces a video and blog post highlighting vital conversations, building skill sets and showing teams how to drive exceptional culture and leadership. To see more, visit

Ashleigh Petersen

Ashleigh PetersenAshleigh Petersen

Ashleigh Petersen is the digital communications manager for Rental Management. She writes news and feature articles, plus coordinates the monthly Safety Issue and several sections in the magazine. Ashleigh loves spending time with her husband and young son, baking, gardening and listening to true crime and comedy podcasts.

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