Developing a good strategy for managing conflict is critical to our wellbeing. It is inevitable that we will face challenging situations, circumstances and people in life. Staying sane in the conflict zone are skills we can learn.
No one grows up knowing how to manage conflict in every situation. Sometimes we are faced with conflicts that are extremely overwhelming for us. We might feel distressed, out of control, and say things we regret. However, it is important to prepare ourselves in advance for these moments by following the 6 steps below.
STEP 1: Don’t get triggered. Don’t get hooked. It is easy for us to get triggered or hooked by unexpected conflict or drama. It is critical to push back on this negativity by saying to ourselves, “I will NOT allow myself to get triggered.” “I will NOT allow myself to get pulled into this drama.” Saying these two statements to ourselves, over and over, is the first step to staying sane in the conflict zone.
STEP 2: Don’t take things personally. “It is not about you! It is not about you! Really, it is not about you!!!!” When you are faced with a strong emotional reaction by another person, it is rarely about you. His or her negative energy is usually due to something that happened in the past and has nothing to do with you. When clients come to my office, I show them how the other person’s strong response originated from the past. Taking this to heart helps my clients calm down and stay sane in the conflict zone.
STEP 3: Time yourself out. Sometimes we need a time out when we enter the conflict zone. Generally, I coach my clients to say, “Could you please excuse me, I need to use the restroom,” whenever they feel the slightest negative energy arise in them. In the restroom, my clients are coached to do a “hand washing meditation.” A time out is critical to prevent the negative energy from taking hold of them. It is important to come up with a couple of good phrases for different situations to help escape the conflict. By giving yourself a time out, you give yourself and the other person space to stay sane.
STEP 4: Breathe. Taking a deep breath and consciously breathing is critical to staying sane in the conflict zone. You might do a breathing meditation in the restroom during your time out. Breath in and out with conscious awareness and try to calm your body and still your mind. Sometimes you only need to take three conscious breaths to calm yourself. When my clients share stories with me about their time in the conflict zone, I will begin breathing loudly. Partly to make my clients laugh, but also to help them realize they are not taking deep breathes in the conflict zone.
STEP 5: Talk through your feelings. After you have escaped the conflict zone, it definitely helps to talk through your feelings with a trusted person. If you cannot talk to anyone then write out your thoughts and feelings in a journal to share later. Make sure you are not venting and complaining because this type of communication will only agitate you. When you tell or write the story, focus on the objective facts versus your judgments. Focusing on the facts, always gives you a great deal of power to manage your emotions and develop an effective response. If you focus on your judgments, you will be filled with anger and resentment, which will poison you and lead to ineffective action.
STEP 6: Keep your sense of humor about the conflict. When people enter the conflict zone, they tend to do and say absurd things. A person’s unregulated behavior and responses may seem outlandish. So much so that it might even seem funny. At first, no one laughs after an experience in the conflict zone but after you think about it or tell the story, you might find yourself laughing. Finding humor in the conflict, can lighten your mood and prevent you from taking the conflict to heart. This allows you to stay sane and empathize with the person who started the conflict.
Final Thoughts: The conflict zone can be a very challenging place. But if we prepare ourselves in advance by remembering these six steps, we can stay sane and handle conflicts more effectively.
Contact Me: If you have difficulty managing conflict, please feel free to reach out to me for an appointment.