Welcome to Day 11 in the series.
Yesterday we spoke about the fact that conflict in any relationship is inevitable. Today we’re going to be looking at our natural approaches to conflict, why they are generally unhelpful and why we must be intentional about learning how to manage conflict (and each other!) well in the process.
How do you generally approach conflict? What is your partner’s approach? And importantly, how well are these approaches working for your relationship?
In his book, The Chimp Paradox, Professor Steve Peters describes in very easy to understand terms how the “Chimp” part of our brain, turns up to crush and annihilate the opposition whenever we feel threatened in any way. This “fight or flight” response tends to be as good as it gets for many of us in our approach to conflict with anyone and especially with our partners. The ones we love the most get the full brunt of our emotions when we are angry and upset.
This is why we need to learn skills and habits to re-programme our automatic responses, so we can treat each other well no matter how angry we get. Generally, we tend to respond based on our personality type and this deep need to protect ourselves at all cost, even from our nearest and dearest. Some people turn up determined to win, others want to negotiate and compromise, some will bury their heads in the sand and others will leave, physically escaping the situation. Sometimes we pick up learned responses from people around us as well and those become our habitual response. Generally speaking, none of these natural habits and tendencies help us work towards genuinely resolving issues. Actually, they are more likely to sabotage the process of getting there.
A simple google search will reveal any number of articles on the different natural conflict resolution styles. We summarise the core 4, all of which are basically “me centred” and therefore not very helpful in resolving conflict, in our online course on Habit #2A: Minimising Conflict. We also take you through a fun exercise to reveal the common myths that people tend to believe about conflict that tend to just make matters even worse. Find out more about our Minimising Conflict course on our 4habits.com website.
Meanwhile, the question to ask is this – do the habits you have for dealing with conflict serve you and get you to the point of genuinely resolving issues? If they don’t it’s time to learn Habit #2 – the habit that will allow you to treat each other carefully during tense times, attack the issue and not each other and emerge from the conflict situation with better understanding and a stronger foundation to the relationship – rather than a fractured one.
Conflict is going to happen, yes, but the more you can do to minimise it, the better.
Tomorrow, we’re going to be looking at how to prepare for “the battle” when it does eventually happen. See you there.