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. Confrontations and conflict require self-control to resist the tempting words […]
Cultivating emotional agility
During conflict, focusing mostly on angry behavior instead of on anger’s real message is like burying the lede in a news story.
A traditional Zen koan, or story.
When you’re stuck on a problem or feeling angry, briefly distancing yourself psychologically from the current circumstances can give you emotional relief and actually help you solve the problem. Here are four simple and potent ways to gain psychological distance (and help others do the same) when you’re spinning your wheels in a conflict conversation.
Take it from a mediator: When someone is angry and loud, trying to control them is not only an exercise in futility, but can also have an unintended consequence — it can escalate them. Here’s one powerful alternative. The bailiff unlocked the small courtroom. After telling me to make myself at home, he pointed to […]
The brain’s working memory appears to be very limited and conflict places a lot of demand on that already-restricted capacity. But there are ways to reduce cognitive load during conflict resolution and free up the working memory needed for concentration, reasoning and good decision making. Working memory is like a mental workspace where we hold […]
Feeling angry, impulsive, or over-reactive? Sleep plays an important role in self-management and may just help you be a better negotiator. Here are three sleep studies that offer insights into the ways sleep, self-control, and conflict intertwine, and one quick, restorative sleep trick worth remembering.
When a person is very angry, asking or telling them to be reasonable is doomed to fail — here’s why and what to do instead. When a person is very angry, the part of their brain associated with being reasonable and articulating reasonable thoughts more or less shuts down. Closed for business. Sign on the […]
Handling blame, defensiveness, and strong reactivity during conflict can challenge both the informal mediators and professional conflict resolvers among us. I’ve found that an evolutionary lens for understanding possible roots of difficult behaviors to be really helpful and want to share it with you. Eons ago, being ostracized from your tribe meant, in all probability, […]
“Whatever you do, just don’t let me stop running,” I said to my husband as I laced up my running shoes and headed out the door. “I’ll see you at about 9:45. Remember — don’t let me stop!”
It was 1998 and I was training for my first marathon. I’d completed half marathons successfully. I’d been training faithfully, running every day, with a long run after work on Wednesdays and a longer run every weekend. It was early on a Saturday morning and I was about to run 20 miles. That was three miles longer than I’d ever run in my life.