How to be the eye of the storm when all you want to do is rage right back
The key to handling conflict, whether in the workplace, on the street or at home, isn’t running from it, it’s embracing it.
Or, as the ancient Chinese saying goes, “Embrace tiger, return to mountain.”
Conflict isn’t the problem. What causes stress is our resistance to it. With billions of individuals on their own paths, with their own experiences, coexisting on one planet, conflicts are bound to arise. We are still part of the animal kingdom.
Luckily, unlike other members of that kingdom, humans can use their minds to transcend conflict by calmly staring it in the face.
When we resist, avoid or amplify conflict, we create internal unrest far more detrimental than anything happening to us in the outer world.
Walking through the fire of conflict without it rattling your center lets you deal with issues constructively. It’s not easy, but keep these pointers in mind next time you are facing any type of tension in your professional or personal life.
1) Connect with your true self
Moments of conflict are ideal times to connect with your untouchable you. This doesn’t mean running to the world of daydreams to escape what’s in front of you. It is simply an invitation to remember that nothing in the physical world could ever diminish your “I am”-ness, or in other words, your being.
Negative social interactions can bruise your ego: make you feel dumb, embarrassed, isolated or worse.
Despite all of these emotions and the scenarios that contribute to them, there is a part of you left unaffected — a part that is whole, untouchable & balanced.
New time you face rude remarks or aggressive behavior at work, connect with your calm, inner self and then act. From that place of peace, you can make more informed decisions on how to intervene, defend or remove yourself.
To be reminded of this safe, complete inner self, try repeating the mantra I am or simply coming to your breath or feeling the weight of your own body on the earth. If you’re seated, place both feet firmly on the floor. You are — and no argument, comment or conflict can change that.
2) Get to the root
Conflict is never about what it is really about.
Part of the challenge of human interaction is recognizing the human motivations we all have. We are all appeasing sensitive egos.
Next time someone singles you out at work, cuts you off on the freeway or yells at you on the street, remember that their motivations are not so different from yours, even if their actions may be.
They too want to be happy, healthy, loved & safe. Their experiences have shaped their behaviors.
Let’s go back to the work situation. If a colleague accuses you of something during a meeting, what is the real motivation? Are they stressed about their own job security, offended by a past conversation or maybe they just lost a loved one?
Looking at the human motivations just under the surface is no substitute for reasonable action, but it does help foster a sense of empathy, which will ultimately leave you feeling better.
3) Delayed response
When someone comes at us heated, emotional & reactive, it’s easy, almost natural, to react right back. Too often, we meet others at their level rather than working to rise above.
Even the slightest of delayed responses result in better judgement and self control.
Delayed responses don’t have to come in the form of 10 deep breaths, five seconds with your eyes closed or anything nearly as dramatic. Simply waiting for other people to finish speaking before replying ourselves is an adequate delay. Not only does it let you step away from reactiveness, but it relaxes the speaker by giving them the chance to express themselves fully. By doing so, they might even peter out, change their stance or calm down.
During your pause, also relax your shoulders and drop your arms at your sides. Don’t position yourself for a fight or you might get one. Through your body language, convey that you’re open to conversation and problem solving. If the other parties are not, then that is out of your control.
Sitting with conflict
None of these pointers suggest that you should in any way avoid conflict. In fact, they motivate you to look it square in the face, take stock and act constructively, not reactively. Conflict makes us uncomfortable so we lash out in all kinds of ways, often saying things we don’t mean. We’ve all been there.
As with anything unpleasant in life, tensing up, running away or lashing out causes more harm than good.
With a calm mind and body, you can look at a situation more objectively and react consciously. Eventually, you will even find value in those experiences.
Next time you are on the verge of seeing red in the workplace or at home, try connecting with your I am, searching for the root cause of the conflict and delaying your response. Over time, watch conflict become moments of growth.
Any tips on how you diffuse conflict? Share them with us by commenting below!
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Omozua is a Certified Emotional Mastery & Intelligent Leadership Executive Neuro Coach who empowers & prepares clients to take the journey from where they are to where they want to be by bravely accessing their own potential.