You go to an event, only to run into someone you don’t want to see (a frenemy, an ex).  Anxiety suddenly creeps in, as does anger and other negative emotions that seem unavoidable in this person’s presence, and you have a choice: you can approach them and start an argument or you can keep your head held high, your hands full, and be the bigger person.

On last week’s episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Adrienne Maloof and her then husband Dr. Paul, let their anger get the best of them and decided to approach Brandi for spreading libelous rumours.  A common theme throughout the Real Housewives series is time and place, as cast members never seem to bring up issues at the right time.

Here’s how to keep your cool in public and handle awkward encounters:

1. Don’t alert the presses. The second you approach someone in a public place, you are bringing the issue to the surface.  For those who may not have heard about it in the first place, you are bringing extra attention to it.  If someone said something about you that calls your character into question, by attacking them and being defensive you are showing your own instability and are also making it a bigger issue.  If others are within earshot, it’s not the time or place.

2. Don’t act out of anger. When we’re in a moment of anger, it’s easy to get carried away.  We tend to say too much and often embarrass ourselves, even more so if alcohol is involved.  If you want to solve the issue then it’s important to wait until anger passes before you approach it.  By yelling at someone and getting all up in their space, you are only putting them on the defensive — which will solve nothing.  If you are not calm, cool and collected, it’s not the time or place.

3. Be civil. If you can approach the person in a civil manner, then it’s OK to bring up the issue.  Just be sure to be very clear and concise. State what your issue is, why it bothered you and what you would like to see on their end to rectify things.  If they start getting heated, walk away and let them know that you’d prefer to talk when you are all in a calm place.  If you don’t have a solution in mind, and you aren’t able to approach someone in a calm way, it’s not the time or place.

4. Don’t attack. Yes, this person may have attacked your character and yes, there are likely hundreds of not-so-nice things you want to say to them or about them, but that won’t do anything to solve your situation.  In fact, it will only create more tension and offer this person more ammunition.   In RHOBH, Dr. Paul used slurs against Brandi, calling her character into question making him just as guilty, and everyone else around them uncomfortable. If you’re going to put others down and attack them, it isn’t the time or place.

Jen Kirsch is a relationship expert, columnist and blogger. For quick tips and tricks, follow her on Twitter @jen_kirsch. Read her posts every Tuesday on Slice.ca.