Confidence in Conflict: Three Methods to Resolving Conflict Without Losing Your Cool

Confidence in Conflict: Three Methods to Resolving Conflict Without Losing Your Cool

In coaching we often suggest clients that they “keep Amy in the backseat” when you’re in a conflict. We are referring to your Amygdala. A tiny almond shaped structure in our brains. Although small, it is mighty. The amygdala controls the fight or flight response in our bodies and brains. Often it acts instinctually and without warning. This is especially true when dealing with a High Conflict Personality (HPC) partner. Our brain unconsciously takes over and we often respond in ways we normally wouldn’t. When we feel lack of control or vulnerability it’s nearly impossible to have thoughtful, well considered conflict resolutions.

There are methods to keep “Amy” in the backseat. Here are three communication tactics that can help you regulate, respond, and rise above conflict.

 

Regulate:

 

In divorce cases we see several physical responses that happen when we are faced feeling attacked. I want to focus on two that I see most often.

Approaching conflict with aggression. Aggressive communication is when you state your needs and leave little room for your partner to share theirs. Examples of aggressive communication would be an attempt to dominate the conversation, using humiliation, critical language, and “you” statements in an attempt to avoid your responsibility in the situation and negate feeling insecure about yourself. This method of communication is often seeing with HPC’s.

Fawning is a response that is very common, especially with clients that have suffered past trauma or suffer from PTSD. Fawning is a maladaptive survival response. It is ones need to avoid conflict at any cost. When a client is in a fawning response they often exhibit people pleasing behaviors, deny their truth for the sake of ending the conflict, and feel that they are unworthy and undervalued.

Approaching conflict with either response can is a recipe for disaster. One of you will surely walk away from the conflict feeling “less than”, unheard, and unloved. We can regulate our own physical reactions to regulate our bodies response to threats. Start with a deep breath. Taking a moment to center yourself and regulate your breathing can instantly change the bodies stress response. Take a break from the conflict, find a quiet place, and spend five minutes focusing on your breath, inhaling, and exhaling slowly. You are allowed to excuse yourself from the conversation. The conflicts you are trying to resolve did not develop overnight and they do not have to be resolved in an instant. When you feel your heart rate begin to rise and the walls feel like they are closing in, simply tell your partner you need a moment to gather yourself and acknowledge you will touch back on the topic when you are in control of your thoughts and emotions. There is absolutely no reason These simple tactics can you help you prepare for the response phase of the argument and knock it down to a discussion.

 

 

Reason:

 

Reasonable, well thought out responses to conflict help us to protect our mental health, self-worth, and sanity.

Now that you have taken a moment to gather yourself, it’s time to gather your thoughts. I encourage clients to take time to look at things from their partners viewpoint. Try to understand the issue and why it is so important to them. At times, the real reason may be convoluted by finger pointing and “you never” statements. For example, my client is angry that her husband forgot it was their anniversary.

She took time and made an effort to make him his favorite meal and buy him a card. How dare he not get her a gift? Is the issue the gift? Is it possible that the gift was the issue on the surface of the problem but really, she feels uncared for, unloved, and possibly unworthy? In true conflict, we must dig deeper to find the issue because it’s rarely floating on the surface of our relationships. Changing our perspective in turn changes our insight.

What if your partner can’t articulate the deeper issue? I suggest questioning them with curiosity. What are you upset about? Can you tell me why you feel like that? and my personal favorite, “what was your expectation of me in that moment?” Try not to interrupt them and stay on the actual issue at hand. Curious questioning does a few things. It gives your partner acknowledgement that you are open to listening and a willingness to let them articulate how they really feel. This can lead to a deeper understanding of their perspective, the opportunity to form a more informed opinion for yourself, and hopefully a resolution in the conflict itself.

How we respond to our partner can make or break the outcome of the conversation. You have the choice to respond in a non-confrontational manner once your partner has finished speaking. “I had no idea you felt that way, do you mind if I address this from my perspective?” or “I would like to avoid continuing to argue about this topic, how do we suggest we fix it?” The goal is to identify the issue, take responsibility only for our actions (if there is any), and stop the conflict cycle in its tracks.

 

Rise above:

 

“But Melissa, this just makes it seem like I’m being a pushover! By keeping my cool and not showing a reaction, the other person doesn’t know how much they have affected me with their words or actions.” This is precisely why these methods work. HCP’s are fueled by the ability to incite hurt, confusion, and lack of control on their target. If you have been with your partner for a while, they know exactly what buttons to push to get a reaction from you. They will rely on that pattern to gaslight, stonewall, and trigger you to get their desired outcome. How many times have you ended a conflict and come away questioning yourself, your involvement, and wondering if you really are at fault for the problem?

Let’s change that! By regulating your body’s reactions, thoroughly considering your responses, and responding without malice, you have taken all the control back and on your terms. You weren’t goaded into angry reactions and remorseful words that can’t be taken back. You maintained your dignity, bolstered your self-worth, and you can leave the conversation feeling good about who you are at your core.

This is not something you can learn overnight. High conflict relationships are volatile, and these methods must be practiced over time. After all, you are fighting your amygdala, its natural response, and it takes time to unlearn unhealthy communication. This is why so many of my clients continue with coaching even after divorce, particularly with co- parenting after divorce. These methods work and can be applied to any kind of conflict that needs resolution.

Divorce CoachAt Divorce Strategies Group, we offer mediation and coaching services for clients thinking about divorce, in the midst of divorce, and even co-parent coaching. If you can relate to this article, I’d love to talk to you. Complimentary Discovery Session’s can be booked directly through our website.

 

 

 

* If you are currently in a relationship and experiencing domestic violence, this article is not applicable. Please call/chat/text with an advocate by calling 800-799-SAFE or visit thehotline.org.

 

What is a Divorce Coach and How Can they Help You?

What is a Divorce Coach and How Can they Help You?

Divorce CoachAre you waking up at 3:00 AM, feeling overwhelmed and panicked by the uncertainty of your future?

Questions and worries run through your mind? “Can I afford to get divorced?” “How do I tell my spouse our marriage it’s over?” “What about our kids?” “How do I tell them?” “How will I survive?” “Do I have to share my retirement savings?” “Do I need to lawyer up?” “What lawyer do I hire?”

The questioning can be endless and in a attempt to find answers, you start Googling. Taking the first steps in a divorce can be terrifying and overwhelming. In researching, something pops up about “Divorce Coaching.” Like almost everything else related to divorce, this is a new term for you.

 

What is a Divorce Coach?

A Divorce Coach is a trained mental health professional who shepherds you through your divorce. Divorce Coaches have unique expertise in divorce, co-parenting, parenting planning, child development, the impact of divorce on children, and all other issues related to divorce. Divorce Coaching is not therapy. Instead, coaches specialize in helping you emotionally cope with divorce before, during and after the process.

 

Is Divorce Coaching Right for Me?

For most people, the prospect of a divorce is an overwhelming life crisis. You need to make big decisions at a time when you are emotionally overloaded. The demands and decisions can be confusing. Divorce can require the time and energy of a full-time job (when a lot of women already have full time jobs and are full time moms).   In the process, it can also be exhausting to get through each day especially when you are meeting with your legal team or financial advisors to discuss divorce related issues.  You don’t know what steps you need to take, how you can figure it all out, or how long it will take. If this sounds familiar, then a Divorce Coach can help. 

 

How Can a Coach Help?

A Divorce Coach can help you understand one of the first and most important decisions you will have to make. You will need to decide which of the divorce process options available to you will work best for your family: a do-it-yourself divorce, mediation, collaborative law divorce, or litigation. The process you choose will dramatically affect your outcomes and the process.

A Divorce Coach will walk the path with you, through the legal process you have chosen, to provide support and guidance when needed. Divorce coaches also offer post-divorce support, addressing issues like co-parenting, setting up a spending plan, and claiming your new life.

 

 

One of the first and most painful things you will have to do is talk to your children about the upcoming changes in your family. A Divorce Coach will help you (and often your spouse) structure and plan for this, telling your children what they need to know. The Coach will help you respond to their questions and concerns in age-appropriate ways.

A Divorce Coach will help you build or strengthen your skills to cope with your emotions, especially at meetings with professionals and your spouse. In addition, your Coach can help you develop and hold you accountable for implementing much needed self-care practices.  This is critical as they can help you feel more grounded and help you cope during this time of life changes.

A Divorce Coach will help you begin to envision your life post-divorce, as a single parent and perhaps going back to work. The Coach will help you set goals and keep you accountable for them. This type of planning may influence your divorce negotiations. For example, if you need re-training to enter the workforce, this can be discussed as part of your divorce settlement.

Coaching will help you develop skills for the negotiations, which usually come after the information-gathering stage. With the help of your Coach, you will be clear about what is important to you in the final resolution. Identifying what matters most to you and where you can compromise is critical in divorce negotiations, and a Coach can help you do this with confidence.

Your Coach will help you understand and think through the many decisions you will be asked to make. A coach can help you feel brave, confident, and articulate in expressing what matters to you without being hijacked by emotions. This makes the process more efficient and cost-effective!

A Divorce Coach can help you build a new kind of parenting partnership relationship with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. A Coach can work with you to establish good communication, boundaries, and strategies for dealing with issues that inevitably arise.

A Divorce Coach provides a safe space to emotionally let go, vent, breathe and heal.

 

 

How Do I Find a Divorce Coach?

At Divorce Strategies Group we offer complimentary Discovery Sessions to discuss you and your situation. This introductory call with Divorce Coach Melissa Provence allows us to learn about you and pinpoint your immediate needs. Let’s talk!