As unpleasant though they may be, interpersonal conflicts of all sorts and sizes happen and will happen to all of us. Invariably someone will end up pushing your buttons, end you are faced with the consequences of it. No matter how unpleasant this feeling may be, there are certain things you can do to manage conflict while still feeling well.
The natural response that we tend to default to when faced with conflict is the so-called outward approach. We will blame the other person for the fact that we feel bad. Using this mindset, the logical next step would be to seek to change the situation, first and foremost by trying to get the other person to change their behaviour. Though this approach can work in certain rare cases, putting the onus completely on the other makes for a tiresome and exasperating approach. Instead, it might be worthwhile to realise that when someone manages to push your buttons, the problem lies with you having these buttons in the first place.
That brings us to a different way of tackling this situation: the inward approach. Instead of shoving the blame of an unpleasant situation onto someone else, we instead take a break and truly listen to ourselves. Instead of initially focusing on the mental side of this problem, we focus on the physical. Truly listening and experiencing your own heartbeat, breath and general physical sensation can help you acknowledge what you are feeling and give it a place. You might start to notice patterns when you do this: do you often feel the same way or have the same thoughts over and over. Becoming aware of this is a good first step in regaining control of yourself and to stop seeing yourself as a passive victim.
Using the inward approach rather than the outward approach can help you to master yourself and develop a greater self-awareness. It also prevents you from getting stuck in a dynamic of blaming others or fruitlessly trying to master external circumstances. This should help you to manage conflict, while still feeling well.
How skilled are you to adopt an inward approach to conflicts?
Who is Séverine?
Séverine Buyse is an AIM Trainer & Coach, facilitating resilience and wellbeing training for the EU Institutions for the past 10 years. She delivers the Create your own Wellbeing in Times of Crisis at the European School of Administration, as well as Compassionate Communication for the European Institutions, agencies and bodies.