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Getting Bent Out of Shape

I have often heard this idiom – getting bent out of shape – when people talk about their reactions or the other person’s when in conflict. Several sources say this expression means to take offense, to become angry, agitated, or upset. For me though, the expression has more of a physical element. That is, it conjures up some interesting images – like an acrobat or pretzel.

In my work as a conflict management coach I am always mindful of how clients appear at the times they share their conflict stories and bent out of shape is apropos for some whose bodies and faces show the distress they are experiencing. However, I also hear the various distortions hearts and brains make out of things that have an adverse impact on them – emotionally and intellectually.

Focusing on the physical dimension and as discussed in previous ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blogs (i.e. Experiencing Your Conflict), there are times we become visibly changed in the way we and our bodies look when in conflict. We may not realize how we appear to others and if they describe us we may be shocked. However, by reflecting on how we appear, even requesting others we trust to let us know how we show up, we are better able to increase our self-awareness in this regard. This, in turn, helps us to consider more intentionally how we interact and the impact on others who observe us.

If you think your anger, upset, etc. leads you to appear bent out of shape, this week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog will resonate.

  • How do you describe the way you look when you are bent out of shape?
  • What does that feel like?
  • How would someone observing you describe your shape?
  • What shape would you prefer to be at these times?
  • What would be different in your conflict interactions if you were shaped the way you prefer?
  • In a specific situation in which you are or were bent out of shape, what specifically happened that led to that?
  • What is one thing you could have done differently to help yourself not become bent out of shape?
  • How may the other person have responded differently to you had you done that (your answer to the previous question)?
  • What are the signs you notice in or about yourself when you begin to become bent out of shape?
  • What may help preclude you from bending out of shape at these times that you may consider in future situations?

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

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