Dealing with conflicts with flying colors: Breaking through blockades

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Text comes from: Schlagfertigkeit (2015) by Dr. Matthias Nöllke, published by Haufe Verlag, Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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The words are often missing in the case of unpleasant surprises. But why is that so? And by what means can you overcome and counteract blockades?

break-wall block

Here writes for you:


Dr. Matthias Nöllke Matthias NöllkeDr. Matthias Nöllke is SPIEGEL-Best-selling author and works for Bavarian Radio.


From the author:






How to break the blockade

Let's recall the factors that cause a block:

  • Evil surprise: You did not expect that!
  • Sovereignty is threatened: if you do not react, you look bad.
  • Tempo, Tempo: You have to do something very fast undertake.
  • Crazed self-esteem: The others are strong, you feel weak.
  • Drowning Syndrome: The more you defend yourself, the faster you go under.

This leads to several starting points for how you can get out of the blockade or not even enter into it.

Be open to surprises

“It won't happen to me again! Next time I'll say this and that! ” This is the usual reaction once we have digested the shock. We think we can prevent the blockade by preparing ourselves thoroughly.

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By simply not being surprised, we plan ahead. After the pattern: If case A occurs, then I react with B. If a saleswoman protests me the saying x, then I counter with saying y.

Build No Fortress

Unfortunately, we never meet a salesperson who does us the favor of throwing at us exactly the rudeness to which we could react so masterfully. Instead, something completely absurd happens. Something that no one could have expected ... And we're stuck again and blocked.

We cannot really protect ourselves by preparing for all eventualities. That only makes us inflexible. "Do not build a fortress" is an ancient Chinese wisdom about the art of war, because the fortress is rigid and includes us. Once the enemies have entered, the fortress becomes a deadly trap. That is one, the second: the world is full of surprises. We have to live with that. It is not always an unpleasant surprise ...


Stay open for surprises: Do not commit everything, do not plan too closely, allow things to go wrong.

Proper preparation is everything

So do you just want to get things done? Not necessarily, because it can actually help you when you think about certain situations before you enter.

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Then you can react better and more confidently. Ready to go. Our book is based on this principle. Often being quick-witted means simply being better prepared. This is in no way in contradiction to the “openness” to surprises just mentioned, but builds on it. There are two points to note:

  • Stay flexible. Do not stick to specific phrases and situations. Vary your formulations and turn everything upside down. Try to be playful; this will keep you more open for surprises.
  • Focus on the important - and likely - cases: When you give a lecture, you should know how to respond to interferers. You should know your “sore points” that someone who wants to hurt you will pick out. That's exactly why you should think of a suitable saying.


As an “iron reserve”, you can build up a pool of remarks that somehow always fit when you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation.

Gain distance

If you are already stuck in the situation where you are being taken over, it is too late for the best preparation. Then you need to lightning fast to think about what to do. First of all, one thing is important: do not be overwhelmed by the unpleasant situation. Try to gain distance.

That is quite possible. It can even be rehearsed, as you will see in a moment. You should realize that it is up to you to change this situation for yourself. What matters is not what the others expect of you. The only thing that matters is what you make of the situation for yourself. You have to regain your ability to act. The first step is to step out of the situation.

The “inner impact protection”

The communication trainer Barbara Berckhan comes from the term “inner impact protection”, which vividly describes what it is about. You build up a kind of inner protective shield that prevents you from being injured. The “inner impact protection” does not let the threatening situation get so close to you. It cushions everything.

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You can imagine the thing like a bell of armored glass, which you can overload in case of need. You see and hear everything, but nothing can happen to you. The others can drum around the bell with their fists, their blows bounce off. You do not have the pain, but the others. You are in a protected space, which makes it possible for you to remain sovereign and self-determined.


The “inner impact protection” helps you to endure difficult situations and remain calm: towards angry customers, bad-tempered family members, malicious colleagues or choleric superiors. You have to go through such situations - and you can do this with this aid.

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