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It happens to the best of us. You’re in a meeting presenting your project updates, you feel in control and confident, and then it starts. The peppering of questions. The barrage of complaints. The aggressive body language. It spirals into a frenzy and others around the table start chiming in with their two cents worth. Perhaps even your own teammates add fuel to the fire. The result? You feel attacked.

Or maybe you’re dealing with a nasty client. He or she showers you with a bucket of complaints. You’re standing there sucking it up and wondering, “what the heck do I do?”. You have no idea how to respond because you’re taken by such surprise.

Here’s a system I share in my workplace communication sessions.
It’s difficult to maintain composure under such circumstances, wouldn’t you agree? It all begins with how you think, what you say and what you do. Here are a few tips to get you on your way, and to regain the composure and control that really belongs to you. I call it the “LUVS” approach and it stands for “Listen Up, Validate, Solve”.


People want to be heard. Sometimes people start pumping up the volume, animating the gestures and upping the forcefulness of their language, when they feel they aren’t being heard. So listen. When you actively listen, you allow people to express themselves and yes, to vent. Strip out the emotion and hear the questions and concerns they’re really asking. What’s at the crux of their frustration? If you have information that will allay their concerns, give it to them. Answer their questions.


Delve into the conversation with a view to understanding the other person’s perspective. You don’t need to agree. This is exploratory. Be a detective. Find out what has prompted this person to hold this viewpoint. Again, you may not agree with their perspective, just dig down to explain why the other might think the way they do.


Let me be clear here — validating someone’s concern doesn’t mean that you agree with them. It’s simply acknowledging that you understand and appreciate how or why someone would think the way he or she does. The thinking may be horribly flawed, not make sense, and not serve the person well — it simply underpins the words and actions of that person. To validate a concern can be as simple as actively listening. Or, it can be saying things like, “I can see why it might appear that way”, or “I see”.


Lots of energy is spent by someone being aggressive. Take that energy and rechannel it to solving problems. Focus on the overall goals. Raise the conversation to higher ground and perspective. Look at the “big picture” and what this person (and perhaps you also) really wants to accomplish. Spend your limited energy and theirs on finding solutions.

When you feel attacked, it’s difficult to be rational. Emotion begets emotion. However, if you really value and/or really need that relationship, let your head rule. Listen, validate and redirect to solutions and you’ll find that often aggression will give way to cooperation. Go ahead, and give it a try — the world could do with a little more LUVS.

© 2014 Marion Grobb Finkelstein

©2021 Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Until next time, here’s to …
Better communication, Better business, Better life,
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author
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Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Marion Grobb Finkelstein helps leaders use their natural communication strengths to build resilient teams that talk.

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