Posts Tagged ‘reacting to others’s behaviour’

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

Letting off steam – or blowing your top?

Monday, October 10th, 2016

When we’ve been wronged in some way by someone, it’s natural to feel hurt and upset. When people around us see that we are upset and ask about what’s happened, our instinct is often to tell them.

Imagine you are walking to work and a stranger barges into you, spilling coffee on your jacket and knocking you to the floor before disappearing without a sorry. When you arrive at the office, dishevelled, you are highly likely to tell your colleagues what happened – it can be cathartic to share the experience, after all. You're unlikely to see that person again and, when you have been given a coffee and commiserated with for a few minutes, you can clean up your jacket, take a deep breath and get on with your day.

letting off steamBut what about if the person who wronged you is someone you have to see regularly? A colleague, friend or family member, for example? Is it always healthy and cathartic to tell others about what has happened to you, or could you end up getting into an unhelpful place of gathering of allies?

Gathering allies is one of the signs of being at War (or going into conflict) that we talk about in the War to Peace workshops. If we are a country about to go to war – or a person about to become in conflict with someone – we've learned that it's in our interests to get as many people as possible to be on our ‘side’.

So the barging stranger example earlier isn’t generally going to be a War situation – it’s hopefully just an annoying thing that happened on the way to work.

But what about if Wendy still hasn’t written that report that you need for your presentation tomorrow – and she promised it three days ago? And what if she did this to you last week as well, and you had to pull an all-nighter to get ready for the big meeting? Is it OK to have a moan to your colleagues? You’re really annoyed, naturally, and it’s cathartic, right?

What about if your colleagues join in with your moan and tell you that Wendy left them waiting a few times too, and that her work was sloppy when it arrived? Would that make you feel better or worse? Does the conversation still feel cathartic, or is it starting to feel toxic? How would you feel if Wendy walked into the room as you were talking? And is your relationship with Wendy getting any better as a result of sharing your frustrations? Would you think to include the times that she had helped you or done some fantastic work in this conversation? (By the way, when we go to War with someone, it's largely unconscious and means it's usually very difficult to recall much good about the person or anything they've done).

There’s a big difference between a short ‘vent’ into a journal or to an unconnected friend and a gathering of allies such as the example above. The first allows us to let off steam, which often helps us to move on and deal with the problem at hand; the second only sends us further into the war zone by reinforcing to ourselves and others how 'right' we are about the person, and gathering further reinforcement and evidence of this from our allies. In short, it’s a quick route to being at War.

In the meantime, Wendy is wondering how she is going to get through another day on no sleep when she's been caring through the night for her sick mother for a month now. She's so distraught, she daren't talk about it for fear of crying at work and looking "unprofessional." If only you'd known what was going on for her...

Over to you

  • The next time you find yourself telling someone about a ‘wrong’, ask yourself: "Am I having a cathartic vent or gathering allies?"
  • Notice what story you are telling yourself and your allies. How do you feel about yourself and the person you talked about afterwards?
  • How can you find more inner resources at times of difficulty? (clue – try starting with the ideas in this post or this one)

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

If you, or someone you know, would like to experience how to let off steam in a healthy way and learn how to be at Peace, even with the people you find most difficult, our next open-access War to Peace workshop is on 3 March 2017. We only have 8 spaces left and spaces sell out quickly (especially our reduced priced tickets) so if you would like to attend, do book yours today.

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Are you seeing red with someone?

Monday, July 18th, 2016

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Jasper had been worried about money for about three years. Since his partner Ruth had become ill and unable to work, things had been tight. At first, they saw it as a sort of a challenge – they swapped energy providers and switched to own brand products at the supermarket and celebrated the savings they had made. They rented a cottage in the UK rather than going on holiday abroad. They cancelled their gym memberships and walked their dog Benjamin a lot more. They dipped into their savings pot because that’s what savings were for, right?

The last six months had felt bleak though. It was no longer a game. Any holidays at all were a distant memory, the savings fund had dried up and they never put the heating on despite freezing temperatures. They were defaulting on their mortgage payments and, to make matters worse, Ruth’s health was declining fast. Jasper couldn’t see any possible happy ending – he stood to lose his partner and his home and he felt desperate.

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Karen had been overjoyed when she got the job four months ago. It was a significant promotion for her and she loved the company she worked for, the position itself, which saw her having to be creative and innovative, and most of all she liked the team she was working with.

Well, all except one person. Since she had arrived, Karen had made a big effort to befriend her colleagues by chatting with them at work and socialising with them as much as possible after hours but Jasper seemed to resist all her attempts to strike up conversation. Every time Karen tried to engage with him, either by asking him opinion on a work related matter or just offering him a cup of coffee, she was met with unsmiling eyes and a polite but very brief answer to her question and nothing more. Jasper seemed to almost be going out of his way to avoid Karen and never joined in with the social activities when she was there.

Jasper’s reactions bothered Karen and she spent a lot of time worrying that maybe she had done something wrong or said something to annoy him. She just couldn’t shake the idea that it was something to do with her – maybe Jasper thought she wasn’t up to the job? These concerns were starting to make Karen doubt her abilities and question her new role in the company.

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When people that we come across are distant, abrasive or even aggressive, it’s very normal to put up our defences and go to War with them. Depending on what sort of person we are, these reactions can be self-questioning, aggressive, or judgemental (we use a framework called the ‘5 Shades of Red’ to better understand this on our War to Peace workshop). Whichever Shade of Red we go to, our reactions invariably only make the situation worse for ourselves and the person we are at War with, even if we try to hide how we’re feeling.

In the situation above, Karen has a very self-critical reaction to Jasper’s behaviour, which makes her unhappy and question her ability to do the very job she was overjoyed about just a few months before.

Another person in Karen’s position may have also gone into the Red but reacted by complaining about Jasper to the other members of the team, in an attempt to gather allies and make themselves feel somehow ‘more right’ about their difficult colleague.

Still others may have confronted Jasper, made disparaging remarks or denigrated him to the boss.

Yet, as we have seen, Jasper’s behaviour has very little to do with Karen and very much to do with the big worries he is carrying around with him.

It’s very easy to take the behaviour of others personally. But what if we stood back and imagined that other person’s apparently abrasive behaviour has nothing whatsoever to do with us?

If Karen had known what was going on with her colleague at home, the chances are that she would treat Jasper (and herself) very differently, which would make her job enjoyable again, and would perhaps also make Jasper’s life a little easier at the same time.

Of course, we can’t always know other people’s stories and pains, but we can stop ourselves from making them up - and we can definitely learn how to stop reacting to their behaviour.

Over to you

  • What might happen if you decided that the behaviour or attitude of a person you're finding difficult to deal with has absolutely nothing to do with you or anything you have done?
  • How might that new perspective benefit you? How might it benefit them?
  • What has been your own 'Shade of Red' in conflict situations? How do you tend to react when someone is abrasive or ignores you?

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

If you, or someone you know, would like to experience and understand more about the impact on your life of being at War and learning how to be at Peace - yes, even with the people you find most difficult - our next open-access War to Peace workshop is on 7 October 2016. We only have one space left for this workshop! So if you would like to attend, do book yours today. Not sure if it's for you? Read what other people who have tried it have to say.

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Seeing Red with someone? Here's what to do about it. 

 

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photo credit: Bound to Ignite via photopin (license)