A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about the 5 ways of handling conflict – it was entitled Turtle, Teddy Bear, Shark, Fox or Owl?
Today, I want to send a little more time talking about the Turtle a.k.a. the ‘Avoider.’
This past week there was a tragic story from Las Vegas about a mother who was killed after taking her daughter out for a driving lesson. Although more details of the incident are slowly being uncovered, the story has been described as case of road rage with a fatal outcome.
When I taught the 5 ways of handling conflict in mediation class, I used the example of a “temporary relationship” like the one you might have with another driver who wants the same parking spot that you do. That’s when being an ‘avoider’ and withdrawing from the situation (not fighting the other person over that parking spot) can be the very best way to handle the conflict.
So, why is that so hard to do when the confrontation escalates to a case of road rage?
Here’s the scenario. The roads are congested, your schedule is tight and that idiot just cut your off and nearly clipped your bumper. So, you’re mad and your first reaction is to shout a profanity through your open window.
The first thing that experts will tell you is don’t assume that the person is like you. That he/she will shout back or maybe, at worst, flip you off. The other person could be prone to explosive outbursts, disproportionate to the situation that he/she finds himself in. The reaction is aggressive and vengeful driving and perhaps worse.
So, if you find yourself in this type of situation, experts advise you to stare straight ahead, and if the driver continues to harass you or follow you, call 911 or drive to a police station.
That’s where the “turtle” comes in.
Don’t Engage. IT’S TOTALLY OK TO AVOID. Stick that head back in your shell and be on your way … safely.