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Seeing Red

The colour red is a symbol for many different things, such as blood, a signal to stop, heat, and a warning. In the conflict context we sometimes use the expression seeing red to describe our reaction to something another person did or said that offends us. This phrase reportedly “derives from the sport of bull-fighting and the toreador’s use of a red cape to deceive the bull”. The explanation goes though that apparently “bulls can’t actually see in colour and are attracted by the waving of the cloth rather than the redness.” However, that doesn’t detract from the red cape theory as the origin of this metaphor.

Another derivation referred to in the same source states that “the phrase may be an adaptation of an earlier American expression – ‘to see things red’. That is unconnected to bull-fighting and alludes to a state of heightened emotion when the blood rises and we become angry.” This is more consistent with the current use as I hear it.

This week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog asks readers to explore a situation in which you could say you saw red in reaction to a conflict, by answering the following questions.

  • When you saw red in that particular situation, what happened?
  • How does the expression seeing red apply to you?
  • What were you feeling at the time?
  • What were you expecting to happen in that situation that did not occur as you had hoped?
  • How may that expectation (your answer to the above question) contribute to you seeing red?
  • What specifically is it about the colour red that describes your experience?
  • What do you especially like about the expression seeing red as it applies to your reaction in this conflict? What does not resonate?
  • If you were to choose another colour to describe what you were experiencing, what would that be? Why that colour?
  • Instead of seeing red or other colour in the moments when you react in a conflict, what may you put in your mind’s eye to see?
  • How does this exploration change things, if at all, about the particular situation you considered for this series of questions?

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

This entry was posted in Conflict Coaching, Emotions in Conflict, Metaphors. Bookmark the permalink.

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