Not too long ago, I was in the midst of an acrimonious situation. Respect and civility had taken a back seat, loud voices and talking over each other were satisfying the egotistical glut. Conflict can be sometimes useful, the rules in a “healthy” conflict promote development and drive a common objective. But, this experience of rancorous behavior was far from healthy or even being called conflict.
Conflict is an internal struggle arising out of opposing needs and expectations. Usually, subjectivity (emotional behavior) takes over objectivity (consistent behavior). Where there are too many hateful emotions, there is a heightened flow of disruptive energy in the environment. It is entirely reasonable for the situation to go out of control like trains going off the rails and derail. Unless of course, you are deliberate in your actions.
Relationships break, hatred develops, and we are left carrying the garbage.
In my experience, there are three simple ways to address any conflict.
Being Present – I’m sure you have heard this repeatedly, but it is hard to be present. Why?
Our minds encapsulated in the brain are conditioned (reptilian part of the brain) to prepare for the upcoming moment. To prepare for the next moment, we rely on the past. And then we prepare for the next and so on. In this constant toggle of future/past, we forget the present! In a conflict, you are busy preparing for the next response. You rely on your past experiences and learnings to provide that answer. The previous activity eclipses the current moment.
A good conflict and an informed response requires being present and feel the context of the situation. As the saying goes “Be here now. Be someplace else later.”
Make questions your ally – We love being coaches. In a discussion, we are ready to give out our opinions. Same thing happens in a conflict; we are willing to throw out statements, our views, make judgment calls and ready to roll out verdicts.
Only if, we were to pause and take the time to ask questions of the other person. You see, when you put a question, it makes the other person reactive, think and respond. You gain a perspective of the other individual.
Questions play the role of a speed bump, and they slow down the acceleration and the hostile vibrations.
Win the person – When I was in an acrimonious situation, there came the point where I had to leave. However, I did not want to get out of the situation with a feeling of bitterness either internally within myself or towards the other person. In those few milliseconds where my mind was tapping into the intellect for an answer, a brilliant thought came which was life-changing.
I asked myself a question “What if I die in the next minute? Do I want to die with hatred and carry this baggage?” This speed bump was enough for me to slow down and stop all discussions. I leaned forward, hugged the other person. The other person reciprocated by stepping forward. With a smile, I waved and stepped out. There was a feeling of joy.
The door of opportunity to interact again was left open. I felt I won over the person.
As I walked away, I said to myself that this could be my last hug – life is short after all.
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