Conflict: React or Respond?

We all have Needs, Values, and Identities.

These are at the very nature and at the core of why the behaviors or even opinions of others cause people to get upset, angry, offended, or hurt.

When you find yourself getting charged (upset), take a breath and ask which needs, values, or identities are involved in your upset, or the offensive behavior.

TRUE STORY: When Melanie’s co-worker Joanne asked her to sign someone else’s name to a document to make an order go through (because she wasn’t willing to commit the forgery herself), she had made an assumption about Melanie’s values, based on the fact that she liked to spend time singing in bars on the weekends.  Joanne expressed surprise at Melanie’s refusal, because in her mind, she had labeled/judged Melanie as “One of those Night Club People,” which she had assumed had lesser ethics and morals that people who stayed out of bars on the weekends. 

Melanie could have responded in several ways:

1. React With Anger/defensiveness- “Look, just because I like to sing in bars doesn’t mean that I am without morals! You sign it if you want it done so quickly.” This woman imposed a dark mark on Melanie’s character (threatened Identity), expecting her to do something unethical.

a. Result: Joanne would keep her opinion about Melanie and possibly label her as angry or over sensitive as well.

2. React with Silent resentment (ignoring or avoiding the problem).

a. Result: There would be tension between Joanne and Melanie from here out, the reason remaining unspoken.

3. Choose to RESPOND. Take a breath, recognize the difference in values, the defensiveness she feels and why, and then respond to the facts, not the judgment.  

a. Result: Melanie calmly responds to Joanne, explaining that she is unwilling to commit forgery- and in the future (here’s how we can move forward), recommends they do what’s right together.

  b. Reality: This answer made Joanne feel a bit defensive, and she responded accordingly with “well I just thought…” to which she received a smile and an effort from Melanie to get the document signed by the authorized individual.  They became friends after that. 

Conflict isn’t always easy to deal with, but if we can separate it into needs, values, and judgments, we can set charged feelings aside and deal with the facts of a situation and continue to push toward our Common Mission of Importance, to serve our clients.

When you feel “charged” or emotional, do you REACT or RESPOND? We have a Choice, if we are aware of the needs, values, and identities being threatened, and the facts that we can anchor solutions to.

Michele Maupin specializes in workplace incivility, bullying, and violence prevention through communication and de-escalation workshops. Contact us for a free consultation- we’d love to Empower your team!

be safe. Be Strong. Be EMPOWERED!