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Who Are You In Conflict?

Interpersonal conflict can bring out things in us that we (and others) do not like. Our usual way of interacting may turn into one that is uncharacteristic of us and how we want to show up. Our responses may surprise and upset us. We might be consciously or unconsciously aware we are re-enacting a parent’s or someone else’s reaction, though we don’t like it. Our communication style at these times may also remind us of other occasions we also acted in this manner. In the end, it’s mystifying why we interact the way we do. While other times we have a good idea of why.

The raw emotions that reflect our hurt, anger, rage, disappointment, dejection and other distraught feelings from the interaction frequently account for how we communicate in conflict. We might also not like how the outcome is headed – such as getting the result we want. We may try different ways of responding in hopes we will persuade the other person to see things our way. Or, feeling fed up, despairing and exhausted may also contribute to who and how we become under conflict stress.

Having lost perspective and a sense of how we want to be and be perceived despite the impact of the conflict, we often don’t have the wherewithal to contemplate the optimal way of responding that aligns with our hopes and expectations for the relationship and outcome.

Consider these questions as you bring to mind a conflict in which you acknowledge you weren’t who you wanted to be.

  • What was the conflict about?
  • What characteristics did you demonstrate that were not the “you” you wanted to be?
  • What seemed to bring that on (your answer to the previous question)?
  • How do you describe who you became?
  • What did you dislike most about who you became?
  • What worked about how you acted? In what way(s)?
  • What didn’t work? In what way(s)?
  • If you have become a person you don’t like in other conflicts what themes may there be, such as what specifically provokes your reaction, who triggers you, the reasons you attribute for the other person’s words of deeds, etc.?
  • How would you prefer to be that aligns more closely with how you want to manage conflict?
  • Next time, how might you be intentional about achieving your preferred way of being when in conflict?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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