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Remaining Sangfroid in Conflict: A Guide to Grace

We’ve all had those moments in school or in the workplace when nothing seems to be in our favor. Truthfully, anything could happen in a professional setting, and it is important to prepare for the worst- a coworker or colleague becomes complacent and contentious. Your boss relentlessly berates you over something you can’t control. Or, maybe you’re just having an off day and you can’t seem to complete simple tasks as they pile up.

You want to wreak havoc, maybe yell at someone, or pick a fight. Your cheeks turn red, tears well up, and you lose control of the situation. Things are not looking great for you. Of course, you are painfully aware that an expression of rage in a professional setting is counterproductive and can be perceived as a sign of weakness. Luckily, I have crafted a step-by-step tactic that can truly ease tensions and provide the illusion that you know exactly what you’re doing.

What does Sangfroid mean?

This is where my favorite term comes into play: Sangfroid. Pronounced “sang-fuah,” this is the subtle art of remaining excessively calm and collected in the face of trying circumstances. In the midst of a petty dispute, this is a brand of divine poison that can help get you back on track, or even win an argument. Here’s how it works: When things begin to heat up, flip the switch. Get inside your own mind and confidently tell yourself that you are coolheaded, even when you know that you’re not. Envision serenity and clear your mind of negativity.

Manage Your Breathing 

Next, control your breathing. This will slow your heart rate and allow you to strategize. If you’re being scolded or an argument has sparked, simply let your opponent’s words become ambient noise and allow your world to move in slow motion. This is when you act as though you’re backing down. It will seem as though you have lost the power, but you are silently taking control of the situation. You have become the calm one; a sangfroid icon. This can truly spark rage in your opponent, turning all of the pent-up emotions onto them, rather than internalizing them yourself.

Control Your Eye Contact

Maintain a withering eye contact. This is intimidating and powerful, and you can trick yourself into thinking that you are untouchable. This will materialize into true dominance. Speak your mind, but keep your voice low. If you are nearly whispering while your provocateur is getting increasingly worked up, you are winning. Even a tinge of sarcasm could be to your benefit, but refrain from condescension. Most importantly, do not back down or lose focus until you have regained control.

For this to work, it is essential to act completely cold-hearted, even if you have never considered yourself to be this way. A major key to success is to prevent emotions from clouding your vision, lest you risk being stepped on. Assert your presence in a cool, sangfroid manner, and you can become invincible.


Sarah Kelley

Rollins '23

After working as a journalist in my hometown, The Florida Keys, I have now come to Rollins to pursue a degree in English. I am also a dancer and love anything having to do with the arts.
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