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Knee-Jerk Reaction

You have likely heard the expression “knee-jerk reaction”. Just in case, this idiom refers to our sudden bodily response to being hit on our knee – called patella. I think it is a good expression to describe an immediate response we experience in conflict when we are triggered by certain things that offend and hurt us. While we physically react to our knee being hit, we emotionally and physically react when certain sensibilities are struck by something the other person says or does.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog is about this concept and specifically, a tendency to react quickly – even impulsively – without taking time to consider what to say or how to say it. It’s a time we might feel our stomachs turn, face get red, hands fidget or clench, and other somatic signs of stress. If you consider any tendency you have to react in a way that could be described as a “knee-jerk reaction”, please bring to mind one of those situations – and ask yourself these questions.

  • What was the situation in which you had a knee-jerk reaction?
  • What specifically resulted in your knee-jerk reaction?
  • What emotional reaction did you experience? What physical one?
  • Which other sorts of situations trigger that reaction (actions, words, etc.)? If it’s with anyone in particular, why do you suppose that is?
  • What is the sensitivity you experience at these times, i.e. why those sorts of things?
  • What do you dislike most about your reaction in these situations?
  • How do you prefer to respond?
  • What gets in your way of responding in your preferred manner?
  • What might it take for you to respond in your preferred way?
  • How will someone observing you describe your response (instead of knee-jerk) when you respond in your preferred way?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?


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One Response to Knee-Jerk Reaction

  1. Pingback: Stopping Ourselves in Conflict | CINERGY Coaching

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