Guest Episode: Eye Opening Ways to Defuse the Tension & Hold the Calm

To close out the year, I’m sharing with you a conversation from another podcast in the Authentic Connections Network I think you’ll find valuable, so prepare to dive into the art of handling difficult individuals and situations with calm. This is an episode from The Grit Show, hosted by Shawna Rodrigues, in it you’ll meet Hesha Abrams who’ll offer us a useful mantra, and so much more. Hesha empowers us with tools to defuse and nullify bullies, as well as make it easier to get our point across.

With a career of tested techniques and a desire to share it with more of us, Hesha offers fascinating insights into human psychology and real-life stories that you’ll relate to. This episode will equip you with the tools to stand up confidently and create healthier connections. Be prepared to transform your approach to conflict and emerge stronger than ever before!

In a world filled with judgement, Hesha also touches on the need to lead with curiosity. She challenges the status quo and shares the importance of genuine interest and understanding as a tool to break through and create connection. Discover the ‘Give a darn meter’ and unlock the secrets of deepening your ability to resolve conflict through curiosity.

Shawna and Hesha’s conversation is a valuable resource whether you’re struggling with conflict management at work or simply navigating difficult conversations over dinner with your family. This episode is a must-listen for anyone seeking a path to better handle tension to increase your successful interactions with others. We all have something to gain from the wisdom and examples shared!

Hesha Abrams is a professional peacemaker, an internationally acclaimed master attorney mediator, negotiator, and author, known for crafting highly creative settlements and resolutions in very difficult matters. With 30+ years in the trenches of resolving human conflict, she has recently distilled her skills into an easy-to-use tool kit, her new book, “Holding the Calm: The Secret to Resolving Conflict and Defusing Tension.” Through stories and examples, she shares her secrets enabling anyone to learn how to approach tense situations to prevent explosions, disarm conflicts, and reduce drama. It is her mission to help make our world, our businesses, and our relationships less acrimonious and more harmonious.

How to connect with Hesha


Facebook: Hesha Abrams

Youtube: Hesha Abrams – Holding The Calm


Get your copy of Holding the Calm: The Secret to Resolving Conflict and Defusing Tension HERE

How to connect with Diane 




Are you excited to get a copy of the workbook that Diane mentioned?

FREE Value Workbook:

You can also get Self Care Audio download HERE –

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Diane Schroeder [00:00:00]:

Welcome to The Fire Inside Her, the podcast where we explore the incredible stories of individuals who have discovered their inner fire on their journey to authenticity. I'm your host, Diane Schroeder, and I am so grateful that you are here.

Diane Schroeder [00:00:23]:

Hello, friends. I have a special treat for you today. You may or may not know, but I belong to an amazing podcasting network called Authentic Connections. And it is full of amazing podcasters who each week share incredible stories with guests. And this week, I am sharing an episode with you from my podcast mentor, Shawna Rodrigues, and her podcast, The Grit Show. And I absolutely love this episode because it talks about how to defuse tension and hold the calm.

Diane Schroeder [00:01:03]:

And the guest this week is Hesha Abrams, and she is an attorney and a peacemaker and really gives simple tools on how to manage conflict and tension and hold the calm. So, I can't wait to hear what you think about this incredible episode.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:01:26]:

Is there someone at work or at home who dominates the conversation and you aren't sure how to respond? When you feel tension in a situation with someone you care about, do you get stuck and you aren't sure what to say? Or maybe you clam up and you don't respond at all. Or you simply walk away. For a lot of us, avoiding conflict is something we do a lot. But as you're going to learn in today's episode, that may not be the best solution. And maybe the reason we're doing that so much is simply because no one has taught us or shown us how to handle those situations or we've only seen them handled poorly or were scared to really just make things worse. We have an incredible guest today and a valuable conversation about what that looks like to be able to own your power in those situations, to know what to say, to have the words, to be able to look at tension and hold the calm. I'm glad you're here today.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:02:44]:

Welcome to The Grit Show, where our focus is growth on purpose. I'm your host, Shawna Rodrigues, and I'm honored to be part of this community as we journey together with our grit intact to learn more about how to thrive and how to get the most out of life. It means a lot that you are here today. As you listen, I encourage you to think of who may appreciate the tidbits of knowledge we are sharing, and to take a moment to pass this along to them. Everyone appreciates a friend that thinks of them, and these conversations are meant to be shared and to spark even more connections.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:03:21]:

Hesha Abrams is a professional peacemaker, an internationally acclaimed master attorney mediator, negotiator, and author, known for crushing highly creative settlements and resolutions in very difficult matters. With 30 plus years in the trenches of resolving human conflict, she has recently distilled her skills into an easy-to-use toolkit, her new book, Holding the Calm: The Secret to Resolving Conflict and Defusing Tension. Through stories and examples, she shares her secrets enabling anyone to learn how to approach tense situations to prevent explosions, disarm conflicts, and reduce drama. Isn't that amazing? It is her mission to help make our world, our businesses, and our relationships less acrimonious and more harmonious, which is amazing and a blessing. I was so excited to get connected to her. So, thank you so much for being here today, Hesha. We're glad to have you.

Hesha Abrams [00:04:12]:

My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:04:15]:

Yes. So, where did you get started on this journey to working with conflict and helping people learn how to hold the calm?

Hesha Abrams [00:04:22]:

Well, I'm a lawyer, and I like to joke that I'm a lawyer who evolved or relocated in one or the other. I was a trial lawyer, and I did complex business cases, and I was young because I've been doing this for a long time, and I won a case that I really should have lost. My client was not in the right, but I kind of outlawed the other side. And then I lost a case. I was doing a pro-bono case for this woman that was getting kicked out of her apartment, and I lost that one because I was good old Boyd. And I had a crisis of confidence and said, okay. This is not right. This cannot be this way. I was, you know, in my 20s and still idealistic thinking about how the world should be, and I got smacked in the face with how the world is. And I met this woman who said she was a mediator, and I went, Oh, what's that? And I listened to her, and I went, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Let me get this straight. You talk to people for a living and solve problems? Where do I sign up? You know? I thought this is great. But then the trainings that you take don't prepare you for it at all. They're very kumbaya, you know, win-win problem solving and how we all have to listen to each other and hear what each other has to say. I'm like, okay. In 10 or 15% of the cases, that is correct. What about the other 80 to 85% when you have to deal with a narcissist or someone self-righteous or arrogant or power grabbing or nasty or emotionally immature or fill in the blank. That's when we really need help because that's real life. That's real life. And I've spent, you know, 30, over 30 years doing that, and people are constantly saying to me, you got to write a book. You got to write a book. How do people do this? Alright. Fine. I'll do it. I'll do it. And I wanted people to know it's like we're cave men and women shoving food in our mouths. I want to say here's a fork. Here's a knife. Here's chopsticks. Like, there are so many easier, better ways you can do stuff, and I promised you spaghetti sauce. Can I tell your listeners that now?

Shawna Rodrigues [00:06:33]:

Yes. Yes. Yes. Please.

Hesha Abrams [00:06:35]:

Thought you would like this. So, I have an analogy that everyone remembers. Why did I give the title of the book such a long name, Holding the Calm: The Secret to Resolving Conflict and Defusing Tension? It's longer than you want to try to punch and sell a book, but what I wanted people to know is that, all conflict, 100% of it, starts with tension. And I don't care if the tension is rrrrr or if it's mm-hmm, either one of them, it all is tension, and we don't take care of it. So, it's like you drop spaghetti sauce on the counter. You take a wet sponge. You wipe it up. It's no big deal. You leave it overnight. You're scraping it off with a knife, and we've all done that. You leave it 3 or 4 months, or 3 or 4 years, and it's old and moldy and nasty, and that is conflict. So, the real question is, why don't we wipe the spaghetti sauce up while it's wet? We don't know how. We're afraid. We're afraid we'll make it worse, so we just pretend maybe it'll go away.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:07:43]:

It never goes away.

Hesha Abrams [00:07:44]:

It never goes away. I wanted to show people this is how you do it. These are some easy, simple ways, and what I did in the book is I wrote 20 techniques, 20 tools in 20 chapters, short, simple. The book's designed to be read in 2 hours. Each with stories, each with sentence stems, each with anecdotes. So, you read it and go, try this one, and you try that one. And then when it works, you go, look at that. I can't believe that actually worked. And then you try 1, oh, that didn't work. Is it the way I, did it? Or maybe I didn't use the right tool. I was using a screwdriver when I needed a hammer. Okay. What else can I do? And then we'll go over on our talk today some special specific things people can do, but it opens your eyes. It's like putting glasses on when you didn't know you needed glasses. You don't know how bad it is until you put the glasses on and go, woah. I can see. This is amazing. I didn't even know. And then when it starts working, people won't say, oh, you know how to hold the calm or you're so terrific. No. They're going to say, you just know how to handle people, or everyone likes you, or you just know how to get things done. That's how it happens.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:09:02]:

Yes. I love that. I love it, and it's so much more than holding the calm, really. It's like this whole concept of being able to handle conflict.

Hesha Abrams [00:09:10]:

Yeah. And tension. And, you know, leaders complain all the time. You know, the number one thing they want is to, they know how to handle their teams or management or their jobs, but no one knows how to handle that difficult person, and then you're afraid, you know, am I going to be accused of discrimination or sexism or, you know, am I going to be accused of something if I don't do this right? Then that's an extra barrier, and now the spaghetti sauce is just getting really nasty and problematic because people are people. You know, we play bumper car egos with each other all the time. It's part of the natural human condition. Introverts and extroverts, polar opposite. Big picture people, detail people. Polar opposites. A 1000 people build a building, and 1 idiot with a stick of dynamite can take it down. So, this preventative stuff is so critical. And when you can't prevent it, you have to know how to handle it. Because things don't have to be nuclear explosions, but you got to know. Here's, you know, here's a pair of glasses. Here's how you can do it.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:10:17]:

Here’s how they can do it. And how is that when you're walking into the middle of a situation? So, the spaghetti sauce is already on the counter and you're needing to get it up. Is this stuff only useful for when you're first walking into the situation, or if you're already there and the tension's already there and can you still use it?

Hesha Abrams [00:10:34]:

Both. It actually works on everything. Now, is it easier to do things earlier? Of course, it is. But we know that with weight loss and health, and we still eat a doughnut. We still do things that we shouldn't do. It works on everything. You just have to try different tools. So, for example, would your listeners like, what should I do if I'm at a meeting or a family dinner and my idiot uncle is saying stupid stuff that he knows pushes buttons, or I'm at a meeting and that blowhard won't stop talking and dominating the airspace. You want one quick way to just shut them up, take care of it immediately?

Shawna Rodrigues [00:11:12]:


Hesha Abrams [00:11:13]:

You look at him, and in a loud voice, you say, “You know what I admire about you, Joe?” He stops talking, doesn't he? Not another sound is going to leave his lips. And let's say you choose your verb. You know what I like about you? You know what I admire about you? You know what I respect about you? You know what I see about you? You know what I understand about you? Whatever verb you can say authentically, pick a verb, any verb. It doesn't really matter. They will stop. You and everyone else at the table. You have their full attention. And so, before I even give you the answer of what you do next, who's got the power in that interchange?

Shawna Rodrigues [00:11:57]:

You. Yes.

Hesha Abrams [00:11:59]:

And look at how easily in a tough situation, you grabbed power. Everyone is now listening at you, and then you say something true to the person. Your passion, your dedication, your enthusiasm, your commitment to truth, your desire to get this thing solved, your whatever. Doesn't make a difference. You figure out something you can say that's authentic. And after you say that, you know what I admire about you, Joe? Your enthusiasm. People will laugh, and he'll sit back, and he won't be able to say a word. As there's nothing to say after that. Let's say the person's not such a jackass. And you want to not hit him that hard? You know what I really admire about you? Your dedication. Your commitment. You know what? They're going to look at you. They're going to go, thank you. And then they're going to get quiet, and then they're going to sit back. So, you've demonstrated leadership, conflict resolution, problem solving, teamwork, and people management in 4 seconds. It's amazing. And I put in the book tons of sentence stems in every chapter, and what I tell people is write them down on a post-it notes or put them in your phone so when you need them, you don't have to go, oh god. What was that? You've got it right there, and they are amazing. And then I put stories in the book because I can say to you, Shawna, you don't know what you're talking about. Let me explain to you how the system works. You're not listening to a doggone thing I'm saying, but instead I can say, can I share a story with you that I think kind of works with what we're dealing with here? 99% of the time, you're not going to say no. So, now I'm going to tell you a story. And every story in my book is 1 minute or less. Every single one is battle tested that I have used in real live mediations, in real life situations to demonstrate a particular point, and they all work. And so, after you do it, people sit back and go, now you talk about it as opposed to argue about whatever the positions were. I'm telling you it's like magic beans in your pocket.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:14:12]:

I love this. Even when I read the title, the Holding the Calm, that I thought it was going to be about how I need to just be quiet and listen better and do everything else.

Hesha Abrams [00:14:21]:

Oh, no.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:14:22]:

This is actually, really active ways of defusing tension. Like, I love this.

Hesha Abrams [00:14:27]:

Interestingly, very little listening. I do have a whole chapter on silence is golden and how to use it tactically to your advantage. Just listening isn't good enough. It's like I gave you the smell of a good meal, but you didn't get to eat it. And everyone talked about listening, all that stuff. Yes. But that's level 1. That's you know, you need to brush your teeth. Right? It doesn't mean you don't also go to the dentist for a checkup. So, before you listen, you spur the talking. You create the space to where the talking matters, and then, therefore, your listening matters. Otherwise, just listening, people regurgitating and vomiting, and you're like, oh god. I'm sick and tired of listening to you. So, you control what happens by the questions you ask, by how you set the stage, by where you direct the conversation, then you step back and you let the person fill it. Great. Then you do what the next step is.

Hesha Abrams [00:15:29]:

So, it's extremely active and powerful, which is why it's not kumbaya, why it actually works. You know? And in my cases, I mean, I've done everything from whose roommate's cat peed on the rug to wrongful death and breast implant and discrimination cases and construction cases and security cases, and now I basically do a lot of intellectual property, patents and trademarks and super complicated kind of cases. And, you know, Google and Amazon and Verizon and IBM and NVIDIA and Apple, those are people who I work with, as well as individuals that are suing them. And when I walk into a case, someone will say, I want a $100,000,000, and a defendant will say, here's 10,000 go away. How do you settle that? Not with logic, reason, or rationale. It's certainly not with, let me school you and tell you how it is, it has nothing to do with any of it. It's all the human psychology of how people behave, what’s important to us, how we engage, how we disengage. And, honestly, that's why I wrote this book because everyone needs to know this. Everyone, and I wanted to make it a simple, easy, digestible thing so that people can actually make their lives better and wipe up the doggone spaghetti sauce.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:16:51]:

Yeah. So, when I really feel like as much as we're talking about spaghetti sauce, and we can all relate to that, but I feel like you're actually giving us the tools to go in and, like, disengage the bombs. Like, to go in there and take out the right wire so that the bomb's not going to go off, and we can actually, like, not have the bomb go off. So, we can do the listening and can do the connecting and can do the figuring things out because we're taking off, like, the wire that's going to make everything just take things up 3 notches.

Hesha Abrams [00:17:15]:


Shawna Rodrigues [00:17:16]:

And that's extremely helpful.

Hesha Abrams [00:17:17]:

You absolutely got it. Exactly right. And it's not hard. I mean, first time you try it, you're not going to be as good at it as I am. I've been doing it 30 years. Right? But you're going to be better than you are today, and then next month, you're better yet, and next year, you're better yet. I'm going to be better next year than I am this year because I keep practicing it, and I keep doing a forensic, how could I have done that better? How could I have seen that faster. What else could I have done to have moved that? You know, the other thing too is people look at people as if you're the same as me. Now you and I just met on this podcast. Right? I don't know anything about you. I don't know your favorite flavor of ice cream. I don't know whether or not you like pizza. I don't know if you'd like to dance. I really don't know anything. And so, in an interchange with somebody, you have to size somebody up real quick. Right? Two questions you ask yourself when you're talking to somebody, are they an introvert or an extrovert? By definition, don't we treat introverts differently than we treat extroverts? Why would I treat an extrovert the same as I would treat an introvert? Let's go. Let's talk about it. Let's get this thing going. I want to bond with you. I want to give you space and time to evaluate this and to think about it, and I want to get to know you slowly and understand. That's information for people on 1st dates. That's why 1st dates don't go well because people project themselves onto the other person. And chapter 1 of the book, chapter 1 is, speak into the ears that are hearing you. Which means, I have to see you. Forget listening to you. I have to see you. And if I'm seeing you and I'm just trying to decide whether you're an introvert or an extrovert or whether you're a big picture person or a detail person. By definition, my give a darn meter is turned on, and you are going to feel that. Now you're going to have rapport with me. You're going to want to talk to me. You're going to feel safe with me. The amygdala, the fear and negativity center in the brain, it’s going to stay dark. It's not going to trigger and get activated. Now, why would I speak Chinese to someone who speaks French? That's just stupid. I should look at you and go, you speak French. Okay. Let's speak French. Oh, you speak Chinese. Oh, you speak Russian. Oh, okay. Let's talk Russian. It's so simple that we forget. You know, we just think, I like ice cream. What is wrong with you that you don't like ice cream? I've offered you ice cream 4 times, and you keep turning it down. Everyone likes ice cream. Is there something wrong with you? Without ever figuring out, you’re lactose intolerant, and you'd be just all over the place. You can't have ice cream, and I never bothered to find that out. And so, when we talk about listening, it just sounds like so big. Right?

Shawna Rodrigues [00:20:24]:


Hesha Abrams [00:20:25]:

It's really diagnosing, which means I have to see you, pay attention to you, turn on my give a darn meter, and I can do that in 30 seconds. It's not hard. We just don't think of it. We just tend to go, here's my stuff. I'm going to dump it on you, and I'm going to see how you react. Well, you know, for 10 or 15% of the people, that will work because they're like you, but you'll have an 85% failure rate. And I don't like an 85% failure rate.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:20:57]:

No, or people are leading, I feel like, with judgment, especially it seems in current times, it will lead with judgment instead of curiosity. So, I'm not here to judge if you're an introvert or an extrovert or here to be curious if you like ice cream or not. I'm here to judge if you like ice cream or not, or I'm here to judge if you're, an introvert, an extrovert, or whatever else instead of, like, being curious. What language is that? Or, oh, what way is that? Or how are they presenting themselves, and how does that connect? So, I feel like that is that give a darn meter, I think, is an important piece of having that curiosity and connecting like that is important. That is great.

Hesha Abrams [00:21:32]:

It’s beautifully said. That's beautifully said.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:21:35]:

I love that. And so, that is definitely the best place to start. So, it's probably giving you a Teflon surface to put that spaghetti sauce on.

Hesha Abrams [00:21:42]:

And, you know, this is the other benefit I tell people too because let's say you're calm, you're peaceful, and then you can have that conversation. That's easy. But what if you're, let's do the advanced course. What if you're hot? What if you're cranky? What if you're hangry? What if you're disappointed? What if you didn't take your meds that day? What if, what if, what if? Right? This is again, I keep saying this is real life, real human beings with real stuff. When you take a step back to diagnose and interact with somebody, what you do is you create a moat around your feelings and how you choose to act or what you choose to say. For so many of us, you feel it and it's in your chest and it grips you, and you go. Right? Well, I'd like to have a little leash or a wick or a mote so that I can breathe a minute and decide how I choose to handle this. What do I choose to say? And if something happens, that's one of the reasons I called it holding the calm because it's a mantra I use. I mean, I'm human. I've got an amygdala. I can get ticked off, and I can get hot, and I will say to myself, I'm holding the calm. I'm holding the calm. I'm holding the calm. Let go. 2 seconds, and it creates a moat around what I'm feeling and reminds my amygdala, the fear, negativity part of my brain that triggers fight, flight, or freeze to say, oh, hold on, girlfriend. How do you choose to handle this? What do you want to do? So, I don't just blabber off at the mouth or act out of the mouth or punch somebody or stalk away angrily or fire off that email that you shouldn't do. It's a mote. And if you say holding the calm to yourself and the reason why it works better than take a deep breath, by the way. Take a deep breath doesn't work. Everyone says it, or the worst thing you can do is say, calm down, calm down to yourself or someone else. It is like oil on a fire. Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down. I mean, police officers are actually trained with that. It is the worst thing you can do. And so, from a neuroscience point of view, why? Well, because your amygdala is activated. And when your amygdala is activated, it feels powerless. What happens when you're powerless? Well, I have more power than you. I'm going to tell you what to do. You need to calm down. You need to take a deep breath. Your amygdala goes, get away from me because if I could, I would. So, now you're telling me you have more power than me, that you know more than me. All you do is activate the amygdala. Make it worse. So, instead of saying to somebody, take a deep breath or calm down, which is really what everybody says, and it's, you can just see it doesn't work. It's the worst thing you can do. The better thing to do is say, can I hold the calm with you? What? Can I hold the calm with you? This seems really upsetting to you. This seems like a really angry situation. There seems like there's a lot of frustration here, can I hold the calm with you, and I help you. You see what that does to the amygdala? Who's got the power in that interchange? You.

Hesha Abrams [00:25:19]:

And, normally, what happens, the other person's upset. You run away. You hide. You freeze. You punch back. Who's got the power? The angry person. When you do this holding the calm stuff, you take back the power. I'm telling you, dear listeners, it is the most empowering thing you can do for you. Forget anybody else. For you. Now you can do stuff. I'm telling you, it's like magic beans in your pocket. It really is.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:25:48]:

Yes. I love that. I love the magic beans, and I do know somebody who will say that, like, you just need to calm down. Just calm down. And it does. It flares me up, and I haven't ever stop to realize why that flares me up so much, and that's so helpful to have you walk through why and to have alternate way to handle it.

Hesha Abrams [00:26:10]:

And you can tell that person because they don't know, and you could say, can I share a story with you? That is always the first way to do it because that opens up someone's ears. I just learned this thing about the amygdala and a little bit about neuroscience and why when somebody, not when you. When somebody says, calm down. Why it doesn't work and it makes it worse? Now there's a conversation with the other person, and they don't feel blamed because you didn't say, when you do this, I feel that way. So, I have a whole chapter in the book on blame, defend, justify death dance and what happens when blame happens? And then the other person then would say, oh my god. You know? I don't understand. And then you can say, you know what would help me more? Because I know you want to help me. Their ears are opened. See that validation? If you see I'm angry or upset or I'm stressed out, just say, can I hold the calm with you, and I help you. They'll look at you like, okay. You know? And then it will happen and not happen and happen and not happen, and then you got teachable moments along the way until it becomes a habit and a pattern that when I'm upset, it would be very helpful to me, and I will be very appreciative of you if you help me that way. And do you think it'd be helpful to you if I did it to you that way? Now it's this giant, massive, teachable moment with partners, with teenagers, with kids, with coworkers, with employees. I'm telling you it works with everybody because we all have an amygdala. We all have an ego, and we all have an amygdala.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:27:51]:

Yes. And this approach of can I share a story and win somebody, and that whole approach is brilliant. I absolutely love it. I think that that's something that can really help every single person listening here in so many areas that they're probably trying to catalog all the different spaces. Where can I use this? Who can I use this with? Because I feel like it is a very valuable way to kind of reframe and be able to share things in a very neutral way. Because I think we get stuck in how we can do that. We avoid conflicts instead of trying to find a way of how we can address attention and figure out how do I even explain why this doesn't sit right with me.

Hesha Abrams [00:28:28]:

Wipe up that spaghetti sauce when it's wet. And if you're feeling tense, wait a minute. Hold the calm. Allow yourself to get back into a sense of power, and that's the beauty of these sentence stems is its magic wands. It's tools. It's glasses. It's chopsticks. It's all the stuff I've been talking about. It's tools because I'm nervous about how do I handle you. You're scary to me, or the consequences of what could happen or scary to me, or the relationship is valuable to me, or, or, or, you come with some of these tools. Now you open and invite a conversation as opposed to scolding or running away.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:29:14]:

Yeah. Especially when we have people that are close to us and dear to us, it's even harder sometimes to communicate those things because it is so much at stake. And once we start getting moldy spaghetti sauce on the counter, like, we do damage to the counters into those relationships because we aren't addressing those pieces.

Hesha Abrams [00:29:30]:

Indeed. You know? And it always comes back to bite. You know? Therapist couches, we have probably more therapists in this country than we have, you know, medical doctors. Mentally, we don't, we don't live in communities and tribes anymore where there was that familiarity. Or there was that wise old woman or that wise old man that we could go to, who could kind of resolve stuff or keep the heat down or help us out. Our society is just very splintered now. So, we, those who are preaching to the audience, the choir here, because anyone who's smart enough to listen to your podcast is already, you know, feeling this, they just want more tools on how do they do it. We can take back our society. We really can. Rather than rail against social media and all the negative raw kind of junk, just take back control. You know, we have politicians that aren't listening. We have things happening that are destroying our lives, take back control. That's all. And if enough of us, do it, this is what's going to happen. This is why I wrote the book. This is why I'm doing podcasts. This is why I'm out there beating this drum that you, our dear listeners, are more powerful than you can possibly, possibly believe, and the bullies are afraid of you. Bullies pick on people they think they can get. Now bullies are damaged too because we can say, oh, bullies are terrible. They're damaged goods or they wouldn't act like that. And I still have to protect myself and have offense. But bullies don't like light, and they don't like a crowd that is not supporting them. They will run away because all bullies by definition are cowards, and the only way they get anywhere is if they get a crowd around them. So, when you're powerful and you take control early, the crowd doesn't form. That's what's so beautiful about it.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:31:26]:

Yeah. And I feel like the workplace we just had an episode on The Grit Show around toxic relationships, and it was interesting. The feedback that I got that folks weren't just identifying their intimate relationships. They were identifying their workplace. They were identifying systems they have to work within. And other places that were having the effect on them, that they were identifying the gaslighting, the lack of respect, the different things you're identifying the podcast or in toxic relationships they were seen in other places. Also, to have, like, some of these tools to be able to defuse attention and the challenges in those places as well, I think it's a valuable tool.

Hesha Abrams [00:31:59]:

You know, when people treat you with disrespect or gaslight you, they do it because they can. If you don't allow it or you raise the consequences of it, it may still happen, but dramatically reduced. Because, again, the people who do that are bullies, and so they pick targets where you're afraid to speak or you don't know how to say something. And so, I can just get away with it. And the more you do this kind of stuff, you'll just turn them. You've got a bully, and you say to somebody who's been really tried to gaslight you or was disrespectful to you. You immediately say, you know what I admire about you? Everyone freezes. Anyone with an earshot freeze, and they want to hear what you're going to say, and then you're very careful about the verb you use. Your work ethic, or your commitment to really trying to be so polite and civil. Or your enthusiasm, even when you don't have the data to support it. Right? You can decide to do it light, medium or hard, it's your choice. Whatever your bravery is, whatever your safety is, whatever your skill level is, you choose what you choose to choose, and I always say start light and easy first. Get comfortable with doing it. But what happens is everyone else looks at you and says, God, I didn't have the courage to do that. You're awesome. But that person isn't picking on you again because they were embarrassed. They don't want to hear that. So, it's now done, but you did it with strength and not nasty and not aggressive and not in a way that it can blow back on you, and the person often will walk away, kind of what?

Shawna Rodrigues [00:33:55]:

What has happened? How do I respond to that?

Hesha Abrams [00:33:58]:

Yes. Who's got the power? When you have power, people don't gaslight you or disrespect you. So, let's do it. Instead of sitting back and going, oh, it's a toxic relationship and it's bad and I don't like it, take your power, everybody. Put on your reading glasses. Learn how to do this holding the calm stuff. I mean, part of the reason I know all this stuff is I had a very challenging upbringing, very difficult, and I've had a lot of therapy. So, I've learned a lot throughout all that way. But every once in a while, someone will do something to me, and one of my best things that I can do is, excuse me? Just that with a face, and people backpedal. You know, you want to try that again. Let's do a duo over because I don't think you meant that the way it sounded. That's a good one, isn't it? Right? But you have to feel whatever your power level is and your comfort level, so that's why given everyone sort of low, medium, and high. Whatever choices you want to make given it, if I feel pretty safe and comfortable, I will take power and say, let's do a duo over on that. I'm not sure you meant that the way that sounded. And then they look at you like, if they were clueless or cheapish when, well, I really was being kind of nasty, and then you have a conversation about it. But, again, I want to do the advanced course. Let's say I'm not safe, and I don't feel comfortable doing it. Then I could do something like, come again? What was that? I don't think I heard you. They get it. Then they don't come knocking on your door again because they can't get away with the crap that they were doing. This is like antibiotics before penicillin was invented.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:35:35]:

Uh-huh. Exactly. Just start defusing the situations and make a difference. Yeah. I think that that tension and being able to realize you do have tools instead of having to just walk away or just let it sit there and just feel that. Because I feel like our bodies take that on when we're not addressing it. Like, it has other effects to us in our well-being if we aren't interested.

Hesha Abrams [00:35:55]:

Totally correct. And the number one killer is stress. Why should, I have stress because of nonsense that you're doing. That's a terrible deal. That's a terrible deal. There's a, alcoholics anonymous has a phrase that a friend told me about that I just think is fabulous. They say, the definition of resentment is poison that you drink but expect somebody else to die. I'm going to say that again because it's so powerful because we all have resentment and grudges. We're human beings. Every one of us does. It's natural to have that. But you say to yourself, resentment or holding a grudge, same thing. Is poison that I drink but expect somebody else to die.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:36:43]:

Yep. Who’s really damaged? What is really happening when that's going on?

Hesha Abrams [00:36:47]:

Rock and roll. I tell you. You know? Nobody gets out of this life alive, and nobody gets out of this life without scars. Now God bless. Some have worse than others. We know that. But nobody gets out of this life unscathed. Nobody. So, the lessons that you learn along the way, how you protect yourself, how you evolve, and allow your light to shine more and more and more. You know, there's a, an Indian guru named Sanchi who said this beautiful thing, that each one of us is a beautiful soul. We're like a light bulb in a lamp, and there's canvas covers, layers of them over that lamp. So, for most people, the light's real dim. Our job in this lifetime is to just keep taking off layers of canvas to allow our light to shine more and more and more.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:37:45]:

That is beautiful. I love that.

Hesha Abrams [00:37:47]:

I like that one too.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:37:49]:

Yes. And being able to defuse tension and be able to connect more with who we are, I think, increases the brightness of that light too. So, I feel like that's one of my main tools.

Hesha Abrams [00:37:58]:

Yes ma’am.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:38:00]:

Do you have anything else, any other examples you want to share with us before we start to wrap up?

Hesha Abrams [00:38:05]:

Well, let's see. I want to give people a quick tip that if you're in a situation where you're in a team building kind of thing, or a relationship, or a family and there's some conflict. I know a lot of marriage counselors use the word you know; you should never use the word you. You should use I statements. Occasionally, that's a decent tool. Occasionally. But more often than not, it is not. Because whatever is happening in conflict, the other person is already thinking you're selfish or a narcissist, and then you use I statements, I don't think it does so well. I prefer to use we statements. So, if you and I are in conflict together and we're fighting over whatever, and I start saying, how are we going to handle this? The brain, the amygdala, and the brain, is we are wired to do friends or foe, Hatfield’s and McCoy’s. I mean, we are wired for that.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:39:00]:


Hesha Abrams [00:39:01]:

Then you calm that down. It's not you and me. It's not me against you. This is we. I use we when I'm doing a very complicated negotiation or a very complicated case where people will never see each other again. But I can create a, we, for purposes of that day or that moment because what it does is it acknowledges this is not just my problem. This is we. Now, occasionally, you may have someone that says, what we? There's no problem for me. It's all you. You made all the mistakes. Okay? Well, you're dealing with somebody really emotionally immature with a low skill set. So, then I would say, okay. I can see that you're feeling really frustrated with this and really distance from it, but I know you care about me. Right? What are they going to say? No? They're going to have to say yes. Well, then I think it's a problem, and I think we need your help in solving it. Do you see how that took me 10 seconds to turn around an arrogant, self-righteous, obnoxious statement and trapped him by his own words. That's why I do these sentence stems. If you just say, you know, I know you care about me. No. No. 1 in a 100 people are going to go, no. I don't care about you at all. Okay. Different technique because now I really know what I'm dealing with. Or I can say, let's say you're having a hot argument with a kid or, you know, a friend or a family member who goes, I hate you. They don't hate you. Hate is not the opposite of love. Apathy is the opposite of love. If they hate you, there's some love there because otherwise, they wouldn't care enough to hate you. So, in that moment, you can say, hate me, or you can go, you don't hate me. You love me. You know you do. And then you start to laugh and you start to joke around and well, I don't like you very much right now. Okay. I understand that. We got to work through this problem, and I know you love me. And I know I love you. You know how that works great with? Teenagers. K?

Shawna Rodrigues [00:41:18]:


Hesha Abrams [00:41:19]:

So, this stuff is, I'm telling you, I'm telling everybody magic beans.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:41:25]:

Yes. Well, I was even thinking about, so, my background way back when with my license of clinical social work is working with young children, and I feel like, that we statement with problem solving with kids is critical as well, that we're on the same team, and we are going to figure this out, and we are doing this. It's not me telling you. It's not me deciding for you. It's not for you. It's not I. It's us and we, and looking at things in that whole perspective. And I feel like with teenagers, like, the whole gamut, the we, to intimate partner relationship, the we, that it covers all those things as well as being at a team at work that it's we. I love that. I love that way of looking at things. I feel like it really does frame things that we're problem solving together, and we're all part of this, and we're on the same page.

Hesha Abrams [00:42:06]:

And the ancillary benefit of it is that it feels like your give a darn meter is turned on. Now you can turn it on level 1 or you can turn it on level 10. The more you turn it on, the better everything is. Every negotiation, every relationship, every encounter, the better you can turn it on higher and higher and higher, it's amazing. But I'm also honest because sometimes you can't. Sometimes, I really don't like you, you know, or I don't like your values, or I don't like what you did, or I don't like what you stand for. Or I can't believe you did that to me. Okay? You're human. This is not kumbaya stuff. This is real live stuff. So, how do you use it to make it be the best you can be given the circumstances and the reality? You know, I want chocolate cake to not be fattening. You know? But I can eat some broccoli first and kind of do it as a carbon offset and then maybe have half a piece of cake, and then, alright, I can work. So, I have choices. When we have choices, we don't feel powerless. And when most people have conflict, they get pushed in a corner, and they don't want to get out.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:43:19]:


Hesha Abrams [00:43:19]:

So, choices. Give them choices. Why not?

Shawna Rodrigues [00:43:23]:

Yes. And I love this. An excellent transition as we're, like, starting to wrap up our conversation too, but having your give a darn meter on, you need to take care of yourself so that you can turn on that give a darn meter. And every episode, we talk about our self-maintenance minute and what we do to take care of ourself so that we can do that. I think even having the power to say to your child, no. You do love me. You love me. It's because I've taken care of myself, and I believe in myself and believe in our love enough for both of us right now. So, I feel like that. It helps to magnify the importance of having our own self-worth and having that ability. So, what do you do to take care of yourself and to maintain your well-being on a regular basis?

Hesha Abrams [00:44:04]:

Well, I'll tell you my healthy thing and then my frivolous thing because I do both.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:44:09]:

I love it. I love it.

Hesha Abrams [00:44:12]:

So, I do yoga, and I find it just critical for both body maintenance and mental maintenance. I just love doing a good hot, sweaty, hard yoga class. And my frivolous indulgence is, I'm a major Star Trek fan, so I read Star Trek novels like candy because they're little paperbacks, and I can sit for 2 hours and devour 1. And I'm on the planet, you know, rise up or wherever it is. I am going through some amazing science fiction thing, and, I can wash my mind, and I find, I'm rejuvenated afterwards.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:44:50]:

That's perfect. Because we even had our episode on burnout, and we talked about, like, being able to escape like that and do that is really a buffer for burnout and a perfect example of self-care, so I appreciate you sharing that. That's great. And for our grit wit, what do we want our listeners to, like, immediately walk away and employ with the doing after listening to us in this conversation today? I feel like there's a lot to gain from your book, so they should definitely look into that, but what's something that we want them to immediately be able to walk away and do?

Hesha Abrams [00:45:20]:

Use the words holding the calm as a mantra for yourself, and then you can choose a tool. I've given a bunch of tools. There's a bunch in the book. I have a ton on that I just give everything away for free because I want people to have this. If they click with me on LinkedIn, I'm doing post pretty much every day or every other day on, you know, little tidbits. I do 1-minute little videos on how to handle things. I've got a Holding the Calm web page that they can sign up for that I don't sell the list or anything, and I just kind of send stuff out, this Facebook page. So, I want people to be able to connect. I'm not selling anything. I'm not teaching trainings. I'm not doing anything other than just trying to get this information out to people that life can be easier. So, that's what I would tell people.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:46:09]:

Yes. So, to take that holding the calm, as your mantra to help you get that mote around your emotions when you're having these difficult moments, and then to maybe take your sticky note and take something that was mentioned that resonated with you from this episode and write it on the sticky note to try that the next time you're in that situation to be able to say that phrase or that piece to kind of redirect or defuse that tension to be able to feel like you have tools and start to build your toolbox to be able to use that when you're in that place to be able to hold the calm.

Hesha Abrams [00:46:41]:

I love it.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:46:42]:

Fabulous. Yes. And so, go ahead. You mentioned LinkedIn, and we'll have all this in the show notes. LinkedIn, and your website is Is that right?

Hesha Abrams [00:46:51]:

Correct. And I think it's also that way for Facebook. And then you can buy the book anywhere, but Amazon is easiest usually. And then if you are kind enough to get it, you'd leave me a nice review because that helps that search engine, you know, do their thing. And I just keep posting more and more things that I hope will resonate with people, and I get amazing responses from folks said they healed a relationship. They didn't have to quit a job with a boss. You know, they negotiated something. It's just, this stuff should be taught in school.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:47:22]:

Yes. Yes.

Hesha Abrams [00:47:23]:

It should be.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:47:24]:

Yes. You need this every single day. You don't need what you learned in chemistry every single day.

Hesha Abrams [00:47:28]:

No. Exactly. And one of the things I did is I put a discussion guide in the back of the book that, you know, people wanted me to do a 2nd workbook and charge for a book. I said, no. No. I'm giving it away for free. I want it in the back of the book, and it tracks the book because trainings are very expensive nowadays, and corporations or, youth organizations, churches, synagogues, mosques, or community centers are keeping everything real tight money wise. So, a bunch of people can get the book, read a few chapters together and discuss it and then follow along with the training guide in the back of the book. It is amazing training because what happens is I read it, and I think I know something. And then, Shawna, you say it means this. I say, are you kidding me? How could you possibly see that? Now we have a discussion. Now I learn more. I understand something more about you. We have more team building that just happened in our group, and if you rotate leadership to facilitate this little baby book club thing, it’s amazing that you're getting leadership training, and it will qualify for most continuing education. You know, lawyers are doing it, social workers are doing it. Psychologists are doing it, and then you get training credits for it. So, anyway, that was, that was my goal in trying to make it easier for to be able to do that.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:48:45]:

That's incredible. Thank you so much. This has been so valuable. I think everyone's getting a lot out of it, and I know I've gotten a lot out of it.

Hesha Abrams [00:48:53]:

Thank you.

Shawna Rodrigues [00:48:53]:

Thank you so much for being a part of the conversation. Have a great day.

Diane Schroeder [00:48:46]:

Another great conversation. Thank you for giving the valuable gift of your time and listening to The Fire Inside Her podcast. Speaking of value, one of the most common potholes we fall into on the journey to authenticity is not recognizing our value. So, I created a workbook. It's all about value. Head on over to to get your free workbook that will help you remember your value. Until next time, my friend.