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Stepping Back in Conflict

One of the difficult things to do when we feel undermined and challenged by what someone says or does is to step back before reacting. Our amygdala is ‘hijacked’ and the wherewithal to think before reacting seems to escape us.

The instinct to defend ourselves, to retaliate, to hurt back, to make the other person wrong – whatever our reactions may be – often trumps reasoning first. This whole scenario commonly results then, in back and forth barbs between the other person and us that are unproductive and, at times, destructive. Or, we choose to avoid the other person in hopes the dissension will reconcile itself with time.

What is especially difficult when we are triggered is to literally gain distance from the dynamic to be able to reflect before we respond. This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider a situation in which you reacted rather than stepping back.

  • What is the situation?
  • To what did you react that the other person said or did?
  • What specifically (in more detail) was it about that which made it especially challenging to step back from?
  • How did you react?
  • What about your reaction was most unproductive for the other person, as you observed it?
  • If you were to have stepped back, what might you have considered, on reflection, that hadn’t occurred to you at the time you reacted?
  • What could you have said to establish some space and time before responding?
  • What would you step ‘to’ instead of ‘into’?
  • What difference would that have made (your answer to the previous question)?
  • As you consider the choice you have – to step back before responding – how is doing so a real possibility for next time? How will you remind yourself to step back?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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One Response to Stepping Back in Conflict

  1. Pingback: The Interpersonal Dispute Equation | CINERGY Coaching

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