Is there anything more heart-sinking or gut-wrenching than being in a conflict situation or conversation? Most of us would do anything to avoid it. But it’s unavoidable at times. That’s life. People don’t always agree with us or what we have done.
Sometimes we can sense an impending conflict before anyone has spoken a word because we know we have to say something that won’t be appreciated. Sometimes we ‘know’ the response we will get. Occasionally our worst fears come true. Other times we are pleasantly surprised when the other person reacts in a more reasonable manner than we expected.
In my recent survey of subscribers to my weekly Resilience Guide newsletter, Conflict Management was the 3rd most requested topic. It was tied with other topics, but in 3rd place nonetheless.
When I am coaching someone who dreads it or avoids it (sometimes at greater cost to themselves than if they had tackled it head on), we often work on several approaches, including:
- Heightened awareness of the value at stake. When it’s necessary to protect someone vulnerable, or a business that provides employment, this is a higher calling that usually supersedes the needs of one person.
- Communication – how to communicate more effectively so that their position is clear and they can explain it articulately and objectively, taking emotion out of the situation.
- Managing their internal stress response, both in advance and on the spot, with effective techniques that are easy to do but powerful in overcoming anxiety.
- Rest and recovery after the conflict. The more stressful a situation has been for them, the more self-care they need. It’s not a luxury in this situation – it’s vital for well-being and continued health.
- And the best bit! Identifying and knowing that they are now stronger than before. What they learned about themselves and how they would confidently manage similar situations in the future. With coaching they realise they can even teach and lead others to manage their own conflicts better. And right there is the growth that gives me goosebumps and makes me so incredibly proud of them…and I don’t mean that in any kind of condescending way. Coaching is the vehicle that stimulates personal growth for clients – it’s my privilege to be in the coach’s chair watching the growth unfold from within. They do it, not me. That’s why the benefits last long after their coaching session.
My message here is don’t be afraid to reflect on conflicts you have faced in the past, with the comfort of being here now and with the benefit of hindsight. Don’t be afraid to face a conflict situation when a value is important to you (keep focused on that value, it’s your compass), and most of all don’t ever be afraid to do what’s best for you. Whether you have ever met me or not, you have me at your side on that score.
Until next week, take care and stay safe,