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When the Volcano is ready to erupt!

The trigger has been pressed, you can feel the heat creeping up the back of your neck, your chest tighten, your jaw clench and your mind racing. Within milliseconds your brain is frantically searching its bank of experience and safety measures to determine how it is going to protect you. Do you,

  • Jump right in and defend your position with every bit of passion inside you
  • Retort with a cool passive aggressive comment that will put them in their place (the very least they deserve)
  • Run away, you have always hated conflict, let them cool off and come back and pretend they never said/or did what they just did.  
  • Turn on your heels and hide the tears that are filling in your eyes. Conflict scares you.
  • Feel shame, for allowing someone treat you that way

I can honestly say I have probably reacted in all these ways at some stage depending on the opponent and the audience.

How we decide to deal with conflict is always a choice, however that choice is based on the bias of our experience and understanding of conflict. 

Our brains are wired to be on high alert to danger, negative thoughts and emotions.  

When we feel attacked our brain searches its bank of memories for similar past experiences ascertaining if protection or defence is needed.  Our brain is so efficient it fills in the blanks, making assumptions and sometimes ignoring rational thoughts that might signal this situation is different. 

For most of us our conflict resolution skills are derived from previous conflict experiences,

  • Our experience of conflict with our parents or siblings.
  • Our experience of conflict with our peers.
  • Our experience as teenagers with authority e.g. school .
  • Our experience of conflict in our professional environment.
  • Our experience of conflict within a relationship.
  • Our experience of conflict as a parent.
  • Our experience of conflict as a team member.
  • Our experience as a manager with the responsibility of staff.

Conflict is a fact of life however when we understand conflict we are a step closer to resolving it. 

Results of research I carried out in 2020 found that developing an understanding of conflict is transformational. I have experienced this transformation first hand, however old habits die hard and I continually strive to identify my triggers, reflect on them and understand their history. 

The next time that trigger button is pressed

  • Breathe
  • If necessary remove yourself from the situation until you can think rationally.   
  • Examine your assumptions about the other person (are those assumptions true/ logical?)
  • What do you think they need?
  • Self-reflect to understand what about this situation triggered you.
  • What are your needs?
  • What messages do you want to convey?
  • Listen to the other person so that you understand their needs (ask questions). 
  • Work with a professional mediator or conflict coach who will empower you to approach conflict in a constructive way. 

“Conflict holds the information that is essential for our growth, learning, 

intimacy and  change, they present us with multiple opportunities for 

transformation and unique opportunities to let go of old patterns”  Ken Cloke

All Conflict Offers New beginnings