In a previous article, I described 5 steps you can take to successfully deal with the dread we often feel when it comes to managing conflict. These steps include: acknowledge your underlying fear and anxiety, identify the threat, check your assumptions, take deep breaths and keep a journal. Here are 5 more tips you can use to gain emotional control and overcome your conflict dread.
- Establish a boundary for your specific trigger. For example, if you are triggered by people’s tardiness, set a boundary that helps you manage this trigger. If someone agrees to meet with you at 1:00 pm, let them know how important it is to be on time and you will need to reschedule if they will be more than 15 minutes late. You can decide ahead of time what you will do to respond respectfully and constructively if the other person is running late.
- Tame the lizard brain by speaking out loud. When intense emotions take over due to a conflict, your brain enters survival mode. The reptilian part of the brain protects us from what we believe is a threat. By vocalizing how we feel, such as “I am frustrated” or “I am really disappointed”, you are shifting activity from the emotional center to the rational part of your brain.
- Visualize a relaxing focal point. When you are experiencing conflict dread (i.e., anxiety), visualize a place where you experience deep relaxation, joy or peaceful moments. Associate this visualization with a word or two; for example, beach or gentle breeze. Visualize those words when you begin to experience anxiety.
- Anchor a strategy with a tangible object. Let’s say you want to practice breathing as a way to center yourself and gain control over your emotions. Carry an item that has a positive and powerful meaning that you can associate with breathing and slowing down. I often wear a peace dove pin when I go into difficult conversations. Others might have a small polished stone with the words breathe or mindfulness that they can touch, which allows them to associate this item with breathing.
- Commit to your intentions. Intentions are a great way to set an expectation for how you want to act and be perceived by others in a conflict situation. Think about how you want to behave, what attitude you want to have, and what emotion you want to feel regardless of what the other person says or does. You may want to be respectful, open to a different perspective and confident. Commit to those actions regardless of the other person’s reaction or behavior. Stay true to your intentions.
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