Pressure-filled situations like difficult conversations tax our working memory. That’s bad news, since working memory is crucial for reasoning, concentration, and understanding. But here’s the good news: There’s a specific type of brief writing activity that can both reduce anxiety about and boost performance under pressure.
The attitude thread
The posture we bring to a conversation -- what we think and feel, how centered and calm we are, the perspective we take, how well we support the needs of our conversation partner -- helps determine the conversation's outcomes.
When we notice resistance, a typical response is to try persuading them out of their resistance. But that approach often causes more resistance, as they defend against our pushing. When we want to overcome resistance, there’s a better way.
One reason apologies feel hard to offer is that they’re colored by fear — fear of feeling shame, fear of feeling judged, fear of offering an olive branch that is not returned. To apologize, we must find ways to anticipate not only what will go wrong, but also what could go right.
Are you in a career where the ability to show empathy is important? New research suggests that how you arrive at empathy is as important as being empathetic. And that old adage about developing empathy by walking a mile in their shoes may actually increase your burnout potential.
Conflict resolution skills alone will only get you so far. How well you use those skills depends on your mindset and the habits you cultivate in yourself. Here are five game-changing conflict resolution habits that will help you use your skills optimally.
We put people, places, things, and ideas into categories. Categories help us navigate the world and it’s natural to categorize. We categorize in conflict, too. But the tension of conflict increases the chances we’ll make category errors — and category errors can really get in the way of conflict resolution.
One reason conflict can undermine self-control is that stress compromises our brains’ emotion-regulation circuitry. But all is not lost when we’ve been emotionally hijacked. Recent research offers a new tool for regaining self-control soon after the stress of an argument: Briefly reminiscing about a happy memory.
When someone is upset, one familiar response is to ignore it and forge ahead. Another is to try to make them feel better with kind reassurance. Both of these approaches are a version of “make it go away.” There’s a third, more fruitful approach: Help them delve into it.
If you believe someone is aggressive, could they behave more aggressively with you than with others? If someone believes you are a hostile person, are you likely to act more hostile when you interact with them? Yes. It’s called behavioral confirmation and if you’re interested in your own or others’ conflict behavior, it’s worth understanding.
We seek out allies when we’re in conflict because allies make us feel strong and right and reasonable. But in trying to be helpful, our allies may actually help perpetuate the conflict by boosting our certainty. When we’re being tested by a conflict, what we want isn’t an ally, it’s a loving provocateur. [Read more…] about We could all use a Russell in our lives
The next time someone declines to take responsibility for words or actions that had a bad impact, don’t immediately assume it’s a flaw in their character. Maybe it’s just their protective brain doing its job.
Conflict can rob you of two precious mental faculties useful for sorting things out: The ability to view the situation from the other person’s perspective and the ability to check your impulses. New research suggests that your future self can help you recapture those abilities.