“Its complicated, on one level. On another, it’s the same old stupid story – we aren’t enlightened. We disagree, fall in love, and hate each other, the whole spectrum of human experience. We have differences of opinion, and sometimes, we can’t resolve those differences peacefully. If a disagreement goes for long enough, and is important enough, people start to take sides. Once people start to take sides, conflict is inevitable.”
Zachary Rawlins, The Academy
Conflict - a difference of opinion? A difference of values?
What is conflict? Certainly conflict involves your emotions and causes something to trigger a response in your body that creates a physical change. Some conflict is beneficial if that conflict results in creating positive outcomes. Far too often conflict results in negative outcomes where people find themselves unable to create an inner story that is peaceful.
What do you do when you find yourself in a situation which creates conflict for you?
At first conflict may look like irritation, where you start feeling a tenseness in your body, perhaps your stomach is starting to tighten and the muscles are preparing to take an action but you don’t know what that will be. There is a threat, yet unidentified you sense that there is something wrong. If the pressure continues your body not only senses a threat it starts producing in quantity the hormones that are going to provoke an action. Just one more thing and the body says, “Enough” – “get out of here or react”.
Let’s look at the five phases of managing internal conflict.
1. The initial reaction – something happens and the body wants to react. Your first step should be to announce the feeling, the emotion you are experiencing. Say out loud the emotion you are feeling. ”I’m scared that something is going to happen”.
2. Release the energy - After you acknowledge the emotion the next step is to discharge that energy and you can do that by taking in a deep breath and releasing it. Focus on relaxing and continue to do deep breathing until that wave of emotions has subsided.
3. Get back under control - Downshift your energy/emotions so that you can get the nerves and energy under your control rather than being under the control of your emotional center.
4. Refocus - This is when you can ask yourself the question, “What needs to be done next?” When you have regained control and released the emotions shift the internal conversation to a cognitive one and look for a positive action.
5. Action - Take an action, this may be re-engaging with the situation and bringing a sense of logic and control to your whole body.
With practice these five steps can be done in a matter of seconds. When you are in control of your emotions in a conflict you are in control.
How does conflict start? Take a look.
What could have been done differently?