For many, the mere mention of conflict sends emotions through their bodies. Fight or flight sets in. Palms get sweaty, heart rates increase, panic takes over, and they become paralyzed. Some respond with the bulldog inside of them with through running through their head screaming, “DOMINATE” “CRUSH” “CONQUER”. Is either one necessarily wrong? A psychologist would want to dissect the emotional trauma in one’s life and talk about their mother. Not a bad path but it can be a lengthy one. What if I told you conflict doesn’t have to be scary and you don’t have to sit in counseling for years to get there?
Conflict is a part of life we experience every day. So why is it so hard to see the conflict for what it is? Step back and logically problem solve. I believe because we have made it too emotional, it creates an unpredictable tornado filled with feelings. Conflict can be treated like every other daily issue and doesn’t need to turn into a massive battle.
Let me break it down for you with a less daunting example.
Breakfast: An everyday encounter. In order to exist, we must eat. Some have a routine for breakfast. Open up the fridge or cupboard and grab the same bagel, cereal, or smoothie. Others are more impulsive, grabbing a bite at a coffee shop while running late for work or whatever was left over from dinner. Every day we have to make a decision about what we are going to eat. Do you get emotionally pissed off because you have to eat breakfast? If you do my mom is an amazing counselor and would love to help you through that…
Let’s treat conflict like breakfast for a second. Your neighbor pounds on your door. As soon as you answer it they begin to berate you for not taking down your Christmas lights yet. “You are making this neighborhood trashy and I can’t even sell my house because you’re too lazy to clean up your freaking yard!”
First of all, it is July so let’s talk about why they are still up. Next, let’s pause the show, step back, and check out some conflict management tools you have in your cupboard.
Fight/Compete: This tool has a winner and a loser. Since your neighbor is using this tool, you choosing the same one will perpetuate the conflict.
You could throw some insults back belittling them into being scared of you. Wash your hands and walk away.
Negotiate: I scratch your back you scratch mine.
Suggest that if they help you take your lights down you’ll help them advertise their home to prospective buyers.
Collaborate: Sounds a little fluffy but it does create an environment for problem-solving and a win-win resolution.
Ask, “When do you think they should be taken down?” and start a conversation about timelines.
Avoidance: Healthy ways to avoid include setting a later date and time that works to discuss it – giving you the time to think through a response. Unhealthy is to walk away ignoring the problem hoping it will fix itself.
Ask, “Can we talk about this tomorrow?”
It really can be that simple! If you train your brain to recognize when it is going into alarm to pause and be mindful of what you’re contributing, you will be able to navigate these conversations with an open mind and healthy communication tools. Making life easier on yourself and everyone around you.
If you’re interested in more information on how to train your brain, check out my article “Managing Chaos.”