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Getting Hot Under the Collar

According to Mom Generations the origin of the idiom hot under the collar “comes from the fact that anger or aggression generally causes a person’s face and neck to become red, sweaty and hot.  Since the collar covers the neck, the collar becomes hot and sweaty.” This expression provides a good visual of people who literally become hot from their agitation and anger when in conflict. This reaction is the subject of this week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog.

Focusing first on what I observe when someone gets hot under the collar, the most obvious thing I notice is a red face and sometimes the neck (just as in the description above). Often I see that the persons’ eyes are wide and their body may be fidgety or their demeanour appears aggressive. It is clear – in whatever ways it is physically demonstrated – that the person is agitated.

Focusing now on other signs – when I see someone get hot under the collar – I notice she or he may speak quickly or not at all. They may sound breathless or speech patterns may emerge that reflect tension and the range of emotions being experienced. Voices may be louder, words may be punctuated with expletives, and the people getting increasingly vexed may strongly emphasize certain viewpoints and phrases by repeating themselves.

If you have observed these and other sorts of reactions in another person when you are in conflict with them and wonder how to respond, the following questions may assist in your quest for conflict mastery.

  • As you bring to mind a specific person and situation, describe what the conflict was about.
  • How do you describe the demeanour of the other person getting hot under the collar?
  • How do you describe her or his voice?
  • What else did you notice that, in your view, further defines this expression getting hot under the collar?
  • What are the points the other person is making that seem to account for her or his “hotness”?
  • How is the person being hot under the collar affecting you?
  • Of all that she or he is saying, what part or parts do you own and are willing to take responsibility for, if any? What else may you be willing to concede, if anything?
  • What might you say to lessen the other person’s stress – if you wish to do so?
  • When you have become hot under the collar in conflict situations, what happens to you that others likely observe?
  • What has helped reduce your “hotness”? What is a “cooler” way to respond that is more aligned with how you want to be and be perceived?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

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