Defusing the Emotional Bomb

  • 4 minute read
  • • by Sharon Koifman
  • • September 12, 2022

Defuse the emotional bomb

If you spend time with me understanding the boomerang effect, you can appreciate that certain actions will render people more defensive and not interested in listening to what you have to say.

Unless your listener is someone with no opinion and is there to learn, any political discussion would increase stress. If a person disagrees with your opinion and thinks you are proposing something that hurts his view of society, his heart rate will increase, making him more driven to ignore you and try to prove you wrong.

I find it so interesting how when you are stressed and someone tells you to calm down or relax, it only creates the reverse effect. Saying instead, I understand why you are stressed, and showing empathy is a perfectly good way to calm someone down. In the world of influencing and debating, certain words or actions will remove the flame from the person you are speaking to and give them the ability to be more attentive and absorb more data.

Keep in mind that the person on the other side often has a misconception that Israel is a society that repeatedly violates Human Rights and hangs Palestinians by their legs while drinking their blood in a Kaparut ceremony.

Well, maybe not that bad, but pretty bad nonetheless. They see you as a person who is an apologist for these supposed ZIonists’ crimes. Without a doubt, if these crimes would have been true, an apologist would frustrate just about anyone.

So often, your job is not only to discredit these misconceptions, but you can’t do it without first defusing the emotional bomb.

The way I like to do it is by simply seeing the positive in my listener and complimenting them every once in a while. I find when I get into a heated discussion, I try to take a big breath and remember that the person in front of me is not necessarily a bad guy.

Too often, it is just people with good intentions who recycle data that they learned from the Anti-Israel Marketing Machine. They often are not trying to hurt Jews; they are just trying to save Palestinians.

So when I get my breath back and get a chance to think for 2 seconds, I often tell the person in front of me that he seems like a good guy who is trying to do good, and we are all here to try and help the Palestinians.

There is a way to defuse the bomb even before it ignites. People are not interested in being lectured, told that they are wrong, or being confronted.

So there is one sentence that I usually use to get people to open up.

Before I provide any comment, I ask if they would be interested to hear another side of the story or my interpretation.

Interpretation is a great word because it is a humble way of saying that I’m not claiming to be right. I just want to offer you my version of the story.

If the response is negative, just say, “I’m happy to explain to you the Israeli side at any time.” If the person refuses, it is not worth talking to him anyway. If there are spectators to this event, they get to see who the bully is.

I specifically remember arguing with someone on Facebook who refused to discuss unless I said something bad about Israel to show that I’m not biased. Considering my hard stance of not apologizing for Israel, I said instead, “Listen, I’m a proud supporter of Israel and very knowledgeable about the topic, so it would be hard to convince me otherwise, but if you are interested to hear another interpretation, I’m here for you.”

The bomb was defused, and the guy listened, and we discussed for literally 2 hours.

At the end of the day listeners must feel that they are making a choice to entertain your ideas because they want to. Not because you said so.

Also, it is important to realize that if the person comes out disagreeing with you, it does not mean you failed to influence them.

I find it quite interesting that on the rare occasions when an argument with my wife gets heated, it always seems at first like the argument is pointless and never reaches anywhere. I tell her what annoys me, and she tells me what annoys her, and it doesn’t seem like we listen to each other or come to a resolution. Yet, at least in my relationship, somehow, we do hear each other through all the noise and try to avoid repeating the same actions that cause frustration.

When you debate with someone who actually seems to care and is not solely focused on demonizing Israel or Jews in general, you would be surprised how often even defensive antagonistic people take the data that you offered them at home and digest all you had to say before they are ready to change their minds.

Also, considering that repetition is a powerful tool, if you did not change the person’s mind the first time, there is a chance that if they talk to another Zionist on another occasion, the same ideas will be reinforced, and that might be enough to change the person’s mind. But first, you need to get the person actually to hear what you have to say. Understanding how to get into a discussion in the first place is critical.

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