We’ve all had to deal with very tough situations over the past year and a half. It could be that some of your relationships which ordinarily would have been counted as your closest, are now strained due to emotions running higher than normal, with opinions and world views that differ. How do we keep communication lines open when we’re socially polarized? Understanding the triggers of your own emotions can help you reign them in and take a listening approach when you find yourself at odds with the person in front of you. Let’s face it, our coping mechanisms may have been strong when this all started, but many are finding themselves at their wit’s end. Employer and employee relationships are among those in jeopardy, especially with so many employers facing mandates that relinquish control over their own companies. So many are trying hard to build stronger cultures and employee engagement, and could use a little encouragement and coping tips of their own. Being emotionally aware of who you are and what your stressors are, can help when conversations get heated. Listening to the viewpoints of others, especially when different from your own helps keep communication doors open. Using neutral phrases like “You may have a point”, or “That’s an interesting perspective” can help when you’re trying to keep your cool while engaged in tough dialogue. A basic need of human beings is to be heard. Giving your employees a voice or platform to be heard is one way you can foster a strong culture in your company and individual relationships as well. Studies show that “difficult people” make up 20% of the population, so it behooves us to figure out how to communicate with them. Try to stay focused on the big picture and always remember what’s most important to you and you’re business.