I think most of us live two personas: The person and the professional. And, although both sides are often intertwined, I’m starting to find that, when it comes to conflict resolution, the two sides have an almost magnetic repulsion.
I have several clients who are in professions that require they be conflict resolution experts (social workers, HR managers, etc.), and, by all accounts, they’re doing an excellent job. However, when it comes to putting those skills to work in a personal conflict, those skills seem to go right out the window.
I’m even guilty of this. I can’t tell you how many times the “conflict resolution expert” in me shows me the “right” way to have a conflict with my husband. BUT, I’m all too happy to tell that part of me to “shut up,” so I can handle things my “own” way. FYI–my “own” way typically involves passive aggressive behavior–not good.
So, what to do when our heads tell us to handle conflict one way, but it’s just too easy to let instinct take over and fight dirty?
I tell my clients to, first, forgive themselves for doing just that. It’s normal to revert to our “old” way of handling conflict, before we knew any better.
However, I, then, advise my clients to remove themselves from the conflict, think about the advice THEY would give to someone else, and follow it themselves. Not so easy, but certainly worth the effort.
So, from now on, whenever I’m tempted to shut-down my rational voice, I’ll take a break, listen carefully to what it has to say, and follow my own directions!