When engaging and managing conflict with people – especially difficult people – approaching them in a connected and compassionate way helps to diffuse tension. This approach always takes courage. But we also need to practise what is called non-violent communication especially in high pressure situations. This begins with time. Before “shouting your mouth off” or “shooting from the hip” take some time out. Just a few moments will do. This will give you the space to calm yourself and align with your non-negotiable values. Then take a moment to reflect calmly on the issue at hand; plan how you wish to respond and rehearse your response in your head. Now you are ready to implement a well-crafted, non-violent response. This is the frist part of managing conflict effectively.
Your body will tell you when you need to remove yourself from a potentially damaging (violent) conversation, meeting or situation. Your heart-rate rises, your palms may sweat and you may feel hot and flushed. This is the point at which you must find a way to physically excuse yourself and take a few moments to calm down and go through the above steps. The stakes are very high and failure to do this can lead to you saying or doing things you will regret.
Conflict is fuelled by a lack of time. “Huh?” I hear you say, “What does conflict have to do with time?” Well, when a conflict is brewing the best thing you can do is take time out. This allows both parties time to cool down, reflect on the issues at stake and plan the best way forward for a positive outcome. It also allows them to return to their non-negotiable values and how they wish for those to influence what happens next. Remember that the heat-of-the-moment is never the best time to resolve conflict. We must bring the temperature of the situation down and this begins with time. Part Two