art work by John Ceprano
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Fighting When in Conflict

Fighting with others is not a necessary part of being in conflict, though for many people these are synonymous. The inclination to fight is one reaction when we are having an interpersonal disagreement with another person. The situation, the person, the stakes, the degree we perceive the offense, and so on are variables that determine which approach we take when provoked and the extent to which we react. However, it is likely that certain behaviours we have come to use routinely, such as fighting, fleeing, or freezing, become our defaults – even when we gain conflict mastery. Since we have a choice and have the ability to learn ways to shift our habitual reactions, it helps to explore our tendencies.

Though fleeing and freezing consume much energy, fighting seems to soak up and dispel negativity that is more likely to increase the tension and discord. Things we say when we fight are often rife with inflammatory words and sentiments that offend and incite. As a consequence, issues get distorted and displaced. Old hurts are regurgitated. Positions become entrenched. Scars are made or get deeper and so on. Essentially, what is being fought for and why seem to remain unanswered questions as reason escapes us and we talk from a place of hurt and anger and other strong emotions.

In answering this week’s questions about the tendency to fight when in conflict, consider a disagreement you are currently having or have recently been embroiled in, in fighting mode.

  • What are you fighting for in that dispute?
  • What is important to you about that?
  • What do you need from the other person that he or she is not delivering on?
  • What do you gain from fighting? Lose?
  • If you lose (lost) the fight, how would (did) that impact you? How would (did) it impact the other person?
  • What does ‘winning’ look like for you? For the other person?
  • If you didn’t fight, what may happen?
  • What may you consider doing instead of fighting?
  • What impact would that have on you? The other person?
  • What win-win is worth fighting for in that situation?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

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