07 Jun DON’T TAKE THE BAIT: Becoming a Master in Dealing with Conflict and Confrontation
Moss Jackson, PhD
Do you find conflict uncomfortable?
Do you run from a confrontation?
Do you want to stop feeling scared when criticized?
WHAT DOES A SMART FISH KNOW?
Dumb fish take the bait and bite into a hook. They end up dead!
Smart fish might nibble but stay away from the hook.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SUCCESSFUL CONFRONTATION AND A FAILED ONE?
Taking the bait
Betty is talking with her husband Jack about a difference of opinion. The conversation gets heated and Jack lashes out with “You always think the worst. Just because I was talking to some woman at the party doesn’t mean I was having sex with her. You’re just being paranoid!”
FIVE WAYS TO NOT TAKE THE BAIT
- Don’t react emotionally. The first impulse might be to retaliate and counter-attack. Don’t! Take a deep breath and pause.
- Powerful Listening. Play back what you are hearing. “So, it sounds to you like I am being paranoid.Anything else you want to add to that?”
- Disarm the accusation.”Is it your intent to put me down, demean my feelings and treat me like a jealous wife?”
- State your Intention.”Oh, I didn’t know I was behaving in a paranoid fashion. My intention is to feel valued and respected by you. WhenI saw you leaning close to her and touching her shoulder, it made me feel uncomfortable about your spending time with her. I did not feel safe. Can you appreciate my concern?
- Take Total Responsibility.Own whatever happens in the relationship. This does not mean taking the blame. Responsibility means you are at cause for your life and how it is turning out. Stop giving your power away to others. Keep looking at what you might be doing to provoke or to create tension or distrust. Say something like “I’m not sure what I did to provoke you. I am just trying to express my feelings about what happened. Can you shed some light on how I am coming across?”
Avoid slipping into power struggles where you get trapped into fighting over who is right. This always ends up in mutual misery. Keep coming from mutual acknowledgement of how each of you are feeling. Feelings have nothing to do with right or wrong. By focusing on the feelings and appreciating the other person’s distress, you lower the trap of being defensive and mutual blaming. Sometimes, we cannot do any better than simply listening and appreciating each other’s perspective. Stay positive and if communication breaks down, call a time out and say,”I don’t know about you but I am starting to lose it and I think I need a break. Why don’t we take a time out and come back later and reconnect. I’m afraid that if we continue, I might lose my temper and say some things I might later regret. I want to resolve this upset in a way that we both feel good. Does that make sense to you?”
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