Posts Tagged ‘choices’

5 steps to stop conflict in its tracks

Monday, June 26th, 2017

You don’t have to be psychic to know when there’s conflict brewing.

There are some rare occasions when an argument or altercation arises out of nowhere. Most of the time, however, we have a sense that we’re not seeing eye-to-eye with someone a long time before the situation erupts.

A crystal ball: You don't have to be psychic to stop conflict in its tracksLittle niggles and irritations can easily mount up, especially when it’s someone you spend a significant chunk of your time with. A member of your team you work with daily is likely to rile you more quickly than that irritating person you only encounter at a quarterly meeting. (If it’s someone you share living space with, things are likely to come to a head even faster.)

Most of us don’t enjoy conflict, so despite our best intentions we tend to ignore our intuition when it comes to preventing it. We might decide to ignore it, hide the way we're feeling, or hope the person will change. Or we take the opposite tack, and decide we’ll approach it “head on”, reasoning that things need to come to a head so that we can “clear the air” by telling them directly what we'd like them to change.

The truth is, neither of those paths is satisfactory when it comes to effectively preventing or resolving conflict. There are far more effective ways to address conflict before it escalates – here are five steps you might want to consider to make that process flow a little easier.

1. Listen to your gut

If you have a sense that someone’s frustrating you, pay attention to it. You’re probably not hiding your feelings as well as you think and once you’re beginning to experience irritation with someone, you’ll almost certainly be giving off subtle indications that can exacerbate things.

Notice your physical response: do you feel tongue-tied, sweaty-palmed, or does your pulse race when you speak to them? Sometimes it’s just a feeling that you want to avoid talking to someone, or a sense that there’s “something going on” under the surface of your interactions. Take note – and be ready to start taking action.

2. Identify the issue

What’s at the crux of the matter? A general feeling of annoyance can feel hard to take action on. So a powerful place to start might be by asking yourself how you’d like the other person to change their behaviour. Maybe you feel as though they’re patronising you, acting more helpless than they seem, or being outright confrontational.

Is there something in their attitude that’s frustrating, or a specific behaviour you’d like them to change? Do you feel angry, resentful or upset when you interact with them?

3. Be Honest

Deciding that the other person’s just unreasonable, putting it down to a ‘personality clash’ or burying your head in the sand isn’t the answer to preventing things from getting worse. We might think we're hiding our feelings well, but most of the time the other person will sense that something's getting in the way of clear communication. Perhaps it's inconsistency, when we're submissive one day and assertive the next. Or it might be subtle signals unconsciously demonstrating that we're not connecting with their message, or respecting how they communicate.

The Spiral of Disempowerment® shows us that a breakdown in communication can easily deteriorate further. So try to be honest with yourself about how you feel, including everything that you've experienced.

4. Do the work

Knowing what it is you’d like to change opens up opportunities for you to reflect on how that need is showing up for you. We know that our ‘stories’ – our version of events – frame situations and can actually trigger the behaviour we’re trying to avoid. (That might sound counter-intuitive, but when we're immersed in our feelings, tiny changes in our attitude have a surprisingly big impact on the people we are seeking to change.)

So ask yourself how you're being in this interaction, and consider how you can take a different approach. It's important to remember that this isn't just about what you do, but about how you're showing up, so know that if you're feeling resentful, angry, intimidated, irritated, hurt, manipulated, shut down etc. it will be sensed on some level by the other person, no matter how well you think you are hiding it. The good news is, you don't need the other person to change in order for you to feel differently.

5. Move towards being at Peace

Being at Peace means returning to your natural, effortless, best self – without the headspace that's taken up by your ideas of what you'd like to change about the other person. It’s this transformation that will bring you the clarity, peace and calmness to be your best self, and can completely turn relationships around before they become outright conflict. In our War to Peace® workshop you'll experience the simple process you can use again and again to move out of conflict before it starts, and enjoy greater influence, clarity and productivity as a result.

It’s very natural to want to avoid conflict, or alternatively to feel as though things need to “come to a head” before we make changes. But being aware of how you are being before direct conflict arises is a much saner and smarter way to manage your relationships. In business, you’ll avoid derailing interactions at an inopportune moment. And, personally, you might be surprised, once you've worked on your own internal dialogue, how little you need the other person to change in order for you to have an easier relationship.

Over to you

  • Is there someone you avoid talking to when you can, or who you find yourself running over conversations with in your head after you’ve talked to them? Maybe you’ve found yourself offloading to a mutual acquaintance, seeking support from someone else who finds them difficult? It's great you've noticed this. Know this is a sign that you have been / are being triggered by this person, and means that you are allowing them to influence you to move away from being your best self.
  • Where are the “trouble spots” in how you are being, whether at work or at home? If you're struggling to answer this, just notice and firstly write down all your labels / thoughts about them. Then be honest with yourself about your feelings and external behaviours e.g. I feel resentful, I feel hurt, I feel angry, I withdraw, I get aggressive, I pretend I'm okay when I'm not, my tone of voice changes when I speak to them, I feel 'on edge', I can't find the right words, I try to out-smart them, I feel intimidated etc.
  • Consider new, more helpful labels for the people you're struggling with. What other labels could you give them or their behaviour (in your head or on paper) that would bring out the best in you? e.g. if you view them as over-critical of you, you could choose to see them as someone who cares about you (even though you find the way they are currently communicating this triggering); if you see them as "irritating" you could choose to see them as someone who is helping you to develop the skill of patience. Start experimenting with these labels to see how you can bring out the best in you when you next interact with them.

Need a hand? Or know someone who does?

Our next War to Peace® workshop takes place in October. These public events only run twice a year at the moment so if you’re interested in gaining the skills to manage all kinds of relationships, don’t wait to book your place. Click here for full details and to grab your spotPlease note, we have just 5 spaces left.

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You don't have to be psychic to know when conflict's brewing. 5 steps to stop it in its tracks, via @HalcyonGlobal

 

 

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©Halcyon Global 2017

Photo Credit: Christian Schnettelker/Flickr

The missing piece of the puzzle…

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Who is annoying you at the moment? Is it other drivers, people who take too long to get to the point, people who are aggressive and short-tempered? What about people who don't do what they agreed to?

It can have quite an impact on us when we have expectations of people that are not being met, especially when our expectations are in line with a broadly accepted idea of what's okay and what is not. It can be particularly frustrating if they are behaving in a way that you wouldn't ever.

The urgent email

This blog was inspired by a War to Peace workshop participant, who shared a powerful story with us of how a senior executive in his organisation had sent an email to someone (let's call him John), asking him to take urgent action to resolve a customer issue. He copied in around 50 people to the email. Two days later, John hadn't replied and it was the talk of the organisation, with people judging John harshly for not having responded or actioned the email.

The originator sent a more vociferous email, stating in no uncertain terms what was expected from John and copied in a further 20 people.  Two days later, John wrote "Sorry I haven't replied to your email, my wife died two days ago. I'll reply to you as soon as I am able".

This story touched us deeply and the participant said it had led him to always asking himself the question, what part of the picture am I missing?

Jigsaw puzzle by Jean Vargas

Photo by Jean Vargas

When else might we be missing pieces of the relationship jigsaw?

Another War to Peace participant shared how his experiences has helped him to consider what pieces of the puzzle he may not have sight of:

The terrible driver ~ Gordon's story

Gordon let us know about one of his experiences after learning the War to Peace methodology. He was driving along the motorway on his way to work. He was about to pull out of the middle lane to overtake the car in front, when he noticed "a maniac in a black BMW" over taking and under taking the cars behind him. 'Bloody idiot!' he said out loud and was about to gesture to him through the window when he remembered a story he had shared at a War to Peace workshop.

Gordon told us how he had been on his way to a funeral and, not knowing where he was going, was following a friend in the car in front. A couple of times, he has nearly lost sight of the friend in front, so had made some last minute manoeuvres. "The gestures I received from other drivers suggested I had inconvenienced them!", Gordon recalled "I was trying to get to the funeral on time, trying to keep up with the person in front of me and wish I could have somehow let the other drivers know my predicament - that I wasn't driving like this on purpose."

It suddenly occurred to Gordon that perhaps 'the bloody idiot' BMW driver had a reason for driving erratically - maybe he was en route to get to see a dying relative in hospital or had just received some terrible news. "As soon as I had that thought, I stopped being irritated by the other driver and it allowed me to drive well myself."

The difficult work colleague ~ my own story

Everyone struggled to work with Jeff. He was bad-tempered, accusatory and a bit of a liar, often refuting that he'd agreed to action certain things when it came to giving an update. If you had a meeting with Jeff, everyone sympathised before you went in and was waiting with baited breath when you came out to hear his latest onslaught. Having tried anything I could think of to deal with him, including having a quiet word with him, challenging him directly in public and even talking to his boss, I would do all that I could to avoid him to be honest, because nothing worked!

One day, a group of us we were in a meeting with Jeff when he got increasingly fractious. He then began clutching his head and suddenly lost consciousness. Unbeknown to Jeff and to us, he was suffering from a brain tumour.

Fortunately, Jeff made a full recovery. His lasting impact on me was to realise that there's always a reason why people behave as they do, and often even they don't understand what that is. All I can do is be the best version of me and learning how to be at Peace with people has really helped me to achieve this.

Yes, but....

I know, what about those people who are just bad-tempered and lie and they aren't sick and they DO just drive badly? Are we supposed to let them off the hook and make excuses for them?

It's a common misunderstanding that being at Peace means being soft and letting people off the hook, and being at War means being tough and making the difficult decisions. This simply isn't the case, because how we are being is far deeper than behaviour and almost anything we do can be done from being at War or at Peace with someone.

In fact, War to Peace participants regularly report making tough decisions (such as firing someone, ending a relationship, making people redundant) have become much easier for them since they experienced the War to Peace methodology. And they have noticed that is far easier for the people who have been affected by the decisions to handle the outcome.

What helps many people is to understand that being at Peace is about having greater clarity of thought, more resourcefulness and therefore more choices. In this place of being at Peace, we are being ourselves - the best version of us becomes readily available, whether that is firm and fair, kind and compassionate or fun and easy-going.

Being at War on the other hand limits our ability to think clearly or see multiple options and solutions, and leaves us feeling disempowered. It's like banging our head against a brick wall because it feels as though we've tried everything - and nothing is working.

Over to you

Spend some time this week considering whether you would rather:

A) Know you are 'right' about someone  - the other driver IS an idiot, that person DOESN'T do a proper job, s/he HAS let me down. You feel stressed, hurt and /or angry (albeit righteously), and spend your energy thinking about how you have been wronged or on how to fix them; or

B) Know that you don't have all the pieces of the jigsaw about this person's life and circumstances. Therefore you get to feel calm, clear-headed and to be the person you want to be, with energy to focus on all the things that are important to you, your colleagues and your loved ones.

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace?

If you know someone who would like to learn how to become more clear-headed, resourceful and achieve the relationships they want with their family, colleagues and friends, we are running our next open-access War to Peace workshop in London on 7 October (just 5 spaces remaining). To book a space, click here.

Loved this? Hate it? As ever, please do leave us a comment below.

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©Halcyon Global 2016