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Keeping the peace among tough times is crucial, counselor says

People are having a lot of tough talks right now. From opinions on the pandemic, politics and racial injustice — conversations can become heated.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — People are having a lot of tough conversations with friends, family and neighbors right now. From opinions on the pandemic, politics and racial injustice — conversations can become heated, especially on social media.

They are stressed since there are a lot of changes happening right now. One wrong word and some conversations could turn sour. 

"Your words do have power," said Sarah Griffith, a licensed counselor with Life Connections Counseling. "Just remember that — the tongue is a powerful sword." 

She said people also have the power to de-escalate a situation before it gets out of hand.

"Sometimes in the heat of the moment, we want to say something or do something to get someones' attention," she said.

First, she recommends thinking before you speak and to try and determine if it's worth it to say something. She also said people should consider their emotions and body language, as well as their proximity to the other person. 

"Taking a step back is important," she said. "So if you and I are having a conversation and I go to sit down, my body language will show I'm not a threat to you."

If you're replying with social media, she said it's better to write it out before you type. 

"Even if someone has a negative reaction I can ignore that," she said. "If I have a negative reaction I can say I'm not going to read anymore."

One of the most important things she recommended is keeping in mind the importance of the relationship. People should ask themselves if winning is more important than their relationship with the person they're arguing against.

Griffith said if people continue to find themselves involved in a conflict, they should talk to someone in a safe space and ask what they need to work on and why they continue to find themselves as a common denominator in conflicts. 

"It's important for us to learn how to create peace," she said. "There's always going to be conflict."

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