My approach to managing and diffusing conflict starts and finishes with managing your own response to confrontation and provocation.
Recently, clients have asked me how to develop that self-control. I believe that the best way is to practice in your everyday life, so that your skills are honed and ready when you need them. Here are some tips to help you stay calm and consider the situation before responding.
1. Say "cheese" please
Saying words containing the "ee" sound can literally boost your mood.
German researchers recently found a link between speaking vowel sounds and mood. Their studies found that the facial expression crated by forming the "ee" sound mimics natural happy facial movements. Much like the increasingly popular laughter clubs, when it comes to feeling happier, it seems you can fake it 'till you make it.
2. Breathe through it
You can also trick your body into calming itself with abdominal breathing. When stressed out the brain releases hormones designed to trigger the 'fight or flight' response, which is not always helpful when responding to confrontation or when you have a big presentation or an important meeting to attend. Once those hormones are released, the body responds in ways that perpetuate the stress no matter how much you tell yourself to "calm down."
When you feel your heart pounding and your breathing speed up, take a moment to reset.
Sit or lie in a quiet spot, and take a moment to observe your natural breath. Are your breaths deep or shallow; Long or short; Fast or slow?
Next breathe in through your nose, allowing the air to fill your lower abdomen and fully expand your belly. Breathe out through your mouth, noticing how you feel. Repeat 3 or 4 times then let your breathing resume its natural pattern.
Be careful not to get up too quickly - all that deep breathing may leave you feeling lightheaded.
Practice this one in low-conflict situations to become attuned to your body's responses, so that when you are in high-stress, high-conflict situations, you can regulate your breathing quickly, comfortably, and without needing to lie down; a few deep breathes should be enough to trigger the body's relaxation, allowing you to think more clearly and speak carefully.
Until next time,