Do You React Or Respond To Conflicts?

Your reactions are learned behavior.  People react to conflicts differently, some calmly and others with explosive response.  Some people flee from the conflict, and others go back fighting.  Some individuals look for ways to negotiate, while others keep pushing to get their own way.  Just as conflicts come in many forms, so do our reactions.

I feel, often the way we react to conflict is also based on how we experienced conflicts growing up.  Most likely, today’s reactions are based on yesterday’s model.  As you were growing up, how did those around you deal with conflicts?  What messages did your parents, teachers, religious leaders, and friends give you?

Our reactions to conflicts were learnt early in our lives.  These patterns are well ingrained into our adult behavior and attitudes.  The good news is that we can re-learn and modify the way we react to conflicts.

The first step being a heightened awareness of how we react to conflicts, which can help keep some of them from escalating and becoming big.

How would you normally react to a conflict?….

Most of our conflicts and reactions to it occur because of lack of our awareness of the underlying ‘interests’.  We are too focused on dealing with the ‘positions’ people take in a conflict.  This results in only heightening the conflict than resolve it. 

For example: When someone says to you “I don’t care what you feel, what’s important to me is that you give it to me right now! immediately!”  Obviously these words would hurt you, you will not like someone shouting at you and also ordering you to do something, even if the other person is presumably right.  If your focus remains on the statement made then it is more likely that you would react with equal vigor and anger or simply leave the place to avoid further bad blood.

However, if you say to yourself “I really hate the way this guy spoke to me right now, however, I still want to understand what makes him so angry.  I want to listen to him” will provide you with an opportunity to understand the underlying ‘interests’ of the person in behaving the way he is doing at that moment.  Maybe you will come to realize that he is angry because someone else has been angry with him.  Maybe, he has made a promise to someone and the delay from your end is causing him to behave this way. There could be many such underlying interests.  The only way you can know is to dig deep, try to uncover and see that over a period of time you become adept at dealing and resolving with conflicts.

The base philosophy to keep in mind while dealing with especially interpersonal conflict is “People are not angry with you the person, they don’t mean to hurt you; they are just angry with the situation they are in”

Stop reacting to the ‘positions’ people take in a conflict. Stop reacting to ‘issues’. Learn to dig deep and uncover the underlying ‘interests’ of people in a conflict.  Encourage people to talk more.  Be an empathetic witness.

It could well make the difference!

Give it a thought…..

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