Conflict Resolution Series: Don’t Fall Victim to Heated Emotions
Conflict is driven by heated emotions. Being able to manage these emotions helps move conflict into resolution. Being aware of your emotions and what they trigger goes a long way towards managing them and preventing things from going from bad to worse.
There are base emotions that lead to regrettable reactions.
Fear → preparation for fight or flight → acting out or shutting down
Anger → becoming defensive → using global statements or cruel language
Shame → causes embarrassment or unworthiness → unwilling and unable to negotiate
You don’t have to fall victim to heated emotions. You can take steps to make sure you get yourself in check before things escalate. Here’s how:
Get to know yourself
By a certain age, you should know yourself pretty well. You may not have thought much about it, but if you did, you should be able to express how you operate when you are scared, angry, or ashamed. Thinking about those core feelings should generate images of behaviors you’ve had in response. From fight or flight to defending yourself - even when you know you’re wrong - because you can’t stand being in trouble. Get to know yourself and identify the resulting behaviors that often come into play during a conflict.
Remedy the triggers
If you can identify the triggers that cause you to react - confrontations, unpredictable people, or any specific scenarios that bring on the knee-jerk reactions - then you can be intentional about changing them. If you know that you are not great at being at parties with large crowds and drunk people, then avoid them. Take those activities off your list. If you find yourself in conflict with really opinionated people who have vastly different beliefs than yours, then limit your contact with them or make a plan for self-care when you can’t avoid them.
Have a plan B
You can’t always avoid the triggers that cause you to go off the rails. That’s when it is important to have a plan B. An escape plan that helps you cope or get out of an unexpected situation. From taking yourself away mentally to literally saying, “Bye Felicia” and leaving, always have a plan B for getting out of unexpected conflict. If you have a hard time with loud people in coffee shops, have headphones at the ready so you can listen to something other than their conversations. If you don’t like waiting in long lines for errands, have a book handy or a second task to work on while you wait, so you can be productive no matter the situation.
The more aware you are of the emotions that generally come at you during conflict, the more you can practice alternative ways to get through the rough spot. From self-care to a good plan B, you can avoid the heated emotions that come from conflict.
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