It may be an overused cliche, but here’s a simple truth worth considering a little closer—It takes two to tango.
Regardless of whether someone’s trying to instigate an argument with you, trying to drag you into some overblown personal drama, or looking for a co-conspirator to engage in some harmful gossip or ignorant speculation—don’t join their dance.
Don’t lose your peace of mind while trying to soothe someone else’s.
Don’t let yourself be dragged into another person’s despair. Whenever another person’s emotions begin to flare, breathe and be mindful.
You cannot calm a person if you are agitated as well.
Let them stand on the dance floor with their drama all alone—their tango won’t last for long with no one else being there to react to, to react with, or to react against.
Unfortunately however, you can't always walk away from a situation entirely, so here’s a few ways to keep you from getting twisted up with another person’s drama.
Don’t speak, listen… and listen hard.
Bite your tongue, breathe, and let the other person speak—no matter how strongly you’re opposed to how they act or what they say.
Let your non-reply be an empty space for others to hear their own words. Let your silence be a mirror others can see themselves more clearly in.
Listen intently, without being consumed by thinking about your reply. Aim to understand how they’re feeling—not necessarily, why.
If you need to reply, do so with empathy—not by trying to further your own opinion or agenda.
Don't rally with them—this is all about them, not you. Respond only to the nature of their emotions, not the specifics of the “situation” they're trying to involve you in. For example, “I’m really sorry you feel so torn-up over this.”
Respond with compassion.
Hold their hand. Hug them. Help them discover the root cause of their distress, rather than only trying to soothe the resulting symptoms (their emotional upset). For example, “Why do you think this affected you so deeply? Was it because of your expectations? Was it due to personal regret? Did it touch a sensitive part within you that you felt a need to defend?”
Reply with the courage and peacefulness of your mindful convictions.
You cannot help someone see the fault in their thinking if your actions only verify their ignorance. For example, “I understand you’re upset, but disparaging another person will solve nothing.”
Sometimes we simply need to refuse to be a part of something if it’s only goal is to harm others. We need to stand up for those who are unable to defend themselves.
Don’t encourage a person’s erratic and unskillful behaviour, nor collude with the intensity of their heated mind.
If you do, things will only get worse. Refuse to collaborate with them.
Be patient. Breathe. Let the other person vent. They need this outlet, and only you are able to gift it them at this exact moment. Letting them do so will help to cool them down so they're more able to self-reflect and see the truth of the madness that's happening inside their own head.
Mistakes in perception happen, this is why we become upset. So instead of dancing with another person's drama, encourage them to step off the dance floor entirely, so they can observe the situation from a entirely different point of view.
Let your calm, collected and compassionate demeanour be revealed as an alternative to how a mindful person can respond to their problems.
Be the peace that inspires their resolution.