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Listen to your 'gut' in a conflict situation

Conflict is a way of life. How we handle it is what defines our peace.

Managing conflict is a challenge encountered by many of my clients. When coaching for this, the approach should be a holistic one and requires unpacking conflict from an integral level; how the conflict arises (what the triggers are) and how it impacts the individual in all aspects of life from his/her personal and business relationships as well as company and systematic perspectives.

When in a conflict situation, ask yourself ‘what does my gut say’? There are numerous tools and techniques on how to handle conflict and many books written on it. And of course, we know conflict is circumstantial, so one needs to look at the circumstances presented. What about the environment, who are the people/the person involved, what result do I want to achieve, what tensions may be at play, is there underlying pressure or stress present etc.? But it is the ‘gut’ that gives us the warning we need. Because when we are not ‘at peace’ our gut tells us so. Learning to listen to your gut helps guide you as to whether to go ahead and to deal with the conflict immediately, wait a while to be able to respond instead of reacting, or to just let it go?

You lose ‘your peace’ when your boundaries have been challenged or when you may not have laid down a boundary when you should have. Just letting it go in a conflict situation however, is as stated by Dr Henry Cloud & Dr John Townsend in their book ‘Boundaries’ (1992); ‘Saying nothing is as good as having a trampled down fence’.

So here are some tips for dealing with conflict:

  • Be open and transparent in a sensitive and diplomatic way when finding yourself in a conflict situation

  • Acknowledge your gut and the frustration or irritation you may be feeling instead of trying to ignore it/hoping it goes away

  • Take a moment to reflect on what you are feeling angry about/why your gut is uncomfortable

  • Address the conflict sooner rather than later but make sure you are responding instead of reacting (think before you speak and take a strategic view)

  • Channel any irritation or anger you feel into an energy for better use e.g. exercise

  • Reflect on what judgements you may be making and examine your thinking around these

  • Finally, work on and develop your capacity for understanding of your fellow man through humility, empathy and forgiveness

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