20 tips to help you de-escalate relationship tension with anxious or stubborn students
You’ve reached an impasse at the dinner table with an anxious student, or maybe you’ve simply been handed a lengthy syllabus and you need to finish it fast. If these situations strike, take heart. Here are 20 tips to help you de-escalate interactions with anxious or stubborn students.
Don’t start a fight.
What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll only anger the person. Their main goal is not to be a jerk, but to get you to grant them what they want. Start out by gently pointing out that asking for more information is normally an accepted request. Instead of responding, provide them with the information they need to respond, then apologize if you must.
Focus on things you both agree on.
Don’t keep pushing and trying to get her to see that she’s wrong on her position. Arguing doesn’t make her think you care what she thinks or feel better about yourself. And it doesn’t accomplish anything more than to make her feel less like you care about her or her problem. Focus on why you’re doing this for her—you believe in her and you think she needs help, and you want to help her in any way you can.
Don’t deny or ignore her pain or sadness. It’s natural for her to feel disappointed in you. Help her cope with her emotions and remind her that you are in a safe place to express yourself. If she cries, cover her mouth with your hand. There is a lot of research that shows relationships of all kinds improve when someone takes a moment to simply hold another person’s hand.
Be a little tough.
Spend a little time telling her about how you know how much your frustration can hurt her. Explain that your goal is to keep her calm so she can continue working on her projects and get a lot of things done to help others. In short, you’re working for her well-being.
Don’t try to be a reality show host.
You can’t “break” her, so don’t resort to the option that seems most appealing: telling her she’s the worst person ever. Why do it? It’s not really the goal of this to help her feel better. Her focus isn’t on yourself and you don’t need to inflict pain on her.
Avoid an all-out battle.
Make it a point to express yourself in a more neutral manner than she does. Don’t spend a lot of time criticizing her work, skills, or skills. Don’t stress about her mistakes. And refrain from mentioning additional tasks she has. Her stress is going to be more than enough.
Even if you’re not getting her cooperation, remember that being kind is the best way to help her feel better. Use any opportunity you have to show her you care about her—for instance, if you have her going over her work before the class and you can tell she’s anxious, offer to go over with her and help her de-stress. She’ll be grateful.
Most of all, try to understand how she feels. It can take a while to know how to approach a situation. Ask her what she’s feeling and make sure you have answers to her questions. You’ll also help her to understand why she’s thinking the way she’s thinking.