“Panic to Action” Leads to Poor Results


When conflict hits it can feel like a crisis urging us to act quickly. That makes sense because adrenaline and other stress hormones flood our body and brain preparing us to take flight or fight. This can lead to heroic acts like lifting a car off a trapped person, but in our daily lives it more often leads to a panic to action that causes all kinds of bad decisions and outcomes. Reflection, not reaction, are needed when working through conflict. Unless someone is bleeding or on fire, a solution can wait. Remove yourself from the situation politely. Say something like, “This is really important and I don’t have the proper time to deal with it now. Could we schedule a time to meet tomorrow?” If that is impossible, at least ask for a break and go somewhere you will be uninterrupted to take a few minutes to breathe and recover so that you can think clearly again.

When you are alone, ask yourself, if this situation worked out perfectly, what would the result be? This often leads to an immediate sense of calm because you are shifting your brain’s attention away from panic and focusing on a positive outcome. Next, ask yourself why that particular result is important.

Discovering why we want an outcome helps us to understand how we are feeling and what we are needing. Let’s say I am a supervisor and the best outcome would be for two co-workers to get along and focus on their work instead of arguing. I could be feeling anxious because my job is judged on the productivity of my department and I have a need for recognition or job security. Or, I might be feeling scared, because I hate conflict and have a need for harmony. You get the idea.

Identifying how I am feeling and why I want an outcome helps me to regain a sense of control and opens up options to get to the necessary outcome. Operating out of pure emotion without understanding what is driving me will often lead to hasty decisions to make the bad feelings go away.

Learn more about managing conflict and get one-on-one conflict coaching and training at www.BobbieDillon.com.