It can be tough to stay positive and professional in difficult situations, especially when you’re feeling provoked.
But taking the high road is always the best option, both for your reputation and for the situation itself.
Here are a few tips for staying level-headed and taking the high road, no matter what comes your way.
How in the world do you take the high road?
We’ve all heard that saying: “take the high road”.
I’m talking about taking the high road when you just got a terrible email.
That is an email that’s completely out of bounds, disrespectful, and does not make you feel good at all.
Alternatively, I am talking about your teenager who just got home and was completely disrespectful to you.
Perhaps you had an argument with one of your kids or your spouse.
How do you take the high road?
I was thinking about this after somebody asked me.
That’s so funny because I’m of the generation that handles this situation with an old adage, and I’m about to age myself a bit.
For example, when we were young and there was a fire, they would say stop, drop, and roll.
That’s exactly what came to my mind.
Someone asked, “How do you take the high road?”
If there’s a fire coming, you’d like to take the high road and go around it.
You don’t want to go through the fire because you will get burned.
Try to stop, drop, and roll
You have to stop, drop, and roll. What do I mean by that?
This happens when someone confronts you with something that is argumentative or disrespectful or clearly something that upsets you in a big way.
First, I want you to stop right there and not respond to that.
For instance, don’t respond to that email, that disrespectful teenager, or that spouse who clearly had a rough day.
Just stop right there.
Second, I want you to do the second thing I learned when I was a kindergartner in elementary school, and that is to drop.
I want you to drop whatever you’re doing and walk away.
If you’re at the computer and it’s a bad email, I not only want you to stop and not respond. I want you to shut your computer.
If you’re in the kitchen and you’re disgruntled, because your teenager comes and they’re being disrespectful, I want you to say, “we’re done with this conversation”.
I want you to leave the room.
I want you to go outside.
Walk away from the tough situation
Nature in my backyard is my go-to.
In fact, I want you to do something completely different than what you were doing.
If your spouse comes home and they’ve had a bad day, I want you to separate yourself from that and go do something else.
Stop what you’re doing, do not respond at that moment, drop everything, and go do something else.
The third thing that I learned when I was a kindergartner was roll.
Overall, you need to stop, drop and roll in these tough moments.
What does roll mean in this regard?
It means trying to roll with the situation.
A great example of taking the high road
Here’s a great example…
Let’s say your spouse just had a bad day and came home very frustrated, so you decide to pound them back with everything you’ve got because there’s no reason for them to be annoyed with you.
If you share empathy and acknowledge the fact that they may have had a bad day, maybe you can share a little empathy and roll with it.
You don’t have to embrace it.
There is no need to accept it but try – if only a little bit – to soften them up a little so that they will be able to hear you and your response, and understand that maybe it’s their job to test you.
Why taking the high road is worth it
In most cases, I’ve learned that they’re not really being disrespectful.
What they’re really saying is I don’t like myself.
Therefore, I bet you don’t like them either.
What if that argument’s not an argument at all, but it is a test to see if you, as a parent really loved them because you loved them when they were cute.
They were a little baby this big and you kissed all over ’em and you fed ’em apple sauce and they were as cute as can be.
Eventually, they realized that it was your responsibility to love them as a parent when they were young since they could not take care of themselves.
Now they’re a teenager and they’re having some of the ugliest thoughts and ugliest moments of their life.
When they look in the mirror, they don’t like themselves.
So how could you possibly like them?
What if you roll with it a minute and say, this is not really about me, but it’s about you and what’s going on in your life.
If you don’t roll with it, ultimately, it would cause you to be so unhappy and so frustrated with your own life.
It doesn’t mean you have to accept it, but it means you can roll with it enough to empathize and see maybe there’s something more going on with this situation.
Taken theoretically, the high road means avoiding it entirely, but sometimes taking the high road means reverting to your earliest principles, which if you’re my age are to stop, drop, and roll.
Remember to stop and don’t respond, drop everything, and go do something else.
That way you can clear your mind and thirdly, roll with the situation, empathize, and understand.
Maybe there’s more to the story than you realize, and you’ll be shocked at what taking the high road can do for you and for those you love.