Conflicts occur when two or more people perceive that, as a consequence of a disagreement, there is a threat to their needs, interests or concerns.
The normal response to an attack is to defend (“you’re wrong”), then to counter attack (“but look at what you did”).
Conflict can escalate quickly, because each counterattack has to be worse than the last one. Anger can range from being a mild irritation to a blind rage. In a blind rage, you are no longer in control.
Some people are quick to anger, but there are always warning signs. Are you thinking “I’m not going to put up with this?” Are you pacing, clenching your fist, getting hot? The sooner you stop anger from escalating, the easier it is to do.
How to manage conflict? Do not defend.
When you feel attacked, ask yourself “is there any truth in what is being said?” If you can find any truth (and you search for it) tell them “you could be right,” and tell them what part is true. We tend to defend against emotionally painful experiences in life.
If there is absolutely no truth, then sincerely say, “I am sorry you feel … (whatever they said), “I don’t love you,” “I am lying,” or “I prefer fast food to your cooking.”
These responses acknowledge their feelings, even if they differ from yours. Then stop! Don’t say another word. If you do, it will be a defense, restarting the conflict cycle.
Conflict is like a ball you throw back and forth, if you don’t participate and throw it back, you are letting them know that you are not participating.
By Karen Edmondson
Featured in Odessa American