How To Handle Conflict With Confidence (Part 1)

Originally published Monday, 10 September 2012.


Get mad?

Of course we do!  We all do.  It’s a basic fact of living within 50 yards of any other human being.  And even if we were all hermits, we’d probably still find something to get mad at ourselves for.

So what do you do when you get mad with someone who matters in your life?  Maybe it’s someone in your family or someone at work who you simply can’t avoid.

The first thing to know is that anger is not all bad.  In fact, it can be an important signal, because it lets us know something can be improved in the relationship.

Being angry doesn’t mean, by the way, that the other person is wrong.  It just means thatsomething is wrong – we don’t know what yet!

And that gives us a chance to respond in two ways: wisely, or not-so-wisely.

None of us bats 1000 every time. I can point to myself as Exhibit A to prove it!  But in every situation, there are wiser steps we can take to handle conflict in a healthy way.

Today, let’s look at a first key step.

The first rush of anger usually brings along a guest, which is the physiological outpouring of adrenaline to gear us up for a good fight.  That’s helpful if you need to go into mortal combat.  However, for most of us, the rush of adrenaline seems only to contribute to rash decisions and poorly chosen words.

So the first step to take when you are angry is:   to take a step back.

Now you can step back to make war, as in, “That’s it!  I don’t want to deal with you and your rubbish for one second more!”  Or you can step back to make peace, as in, “I need time to find a way to work this out.”

Stepping back in peace is what we want here.

You may signal to the other person that you plan to step back, by saying something like, “ I need time to think,” or “I’m going to take a break from this right now.”

Stepping back does two great things:  it gives the adrenaline time to wash out of your system, and it gives you time to gather your thoughts.

Time is your friend in any anger situation.  There’s so much you can do with that time you’ve just created.  We will look at that in the next part of the series.

But for today remember,

A first step you can take to deal wisely with conflict is:  to step back.

Question:  What is your initial reaction when you feel angry with another person?  Do you tend to jump right in, or do you pull back so you can cool down?






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Dr. Ann is a M.D. who writes, speaks, and coaches.  Her mission is to empower women in life and work!  Ann is syndicated on, and has been featured onBlogHer.comMichaelHyatt.comFox news, and Good Morning America.  

Copyright Dr. Ann 2012

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