Monday, May 16, 2005


Emotional Intelligence and conflict

"Avoiding conflict is the best way to invite conflict". Do you tend to avoid conflict in your life? Do you do it mostly at work or in your personal relationships? My guess is the area where you work hard at avoiding conflict is the one area that is the less satisfying. The reason is that when you avoid conflict, you are not being yourself. When you are afraid of conflict, you give away your power. You litterally pay with your own life for the right to be. Or do you also try to appease with gifts.

How can you use emotional intelligence to move out of that pattern? The best time to do some work is when you are not being emotionally hikacked, that is when you can think straight. Think of the latest crisis? Do you repeatedly avoid the same type of conflict only to find yourself in crisis time after time? Take a sheet of paper and write down the feelings that come up AND go back in time to the very first time you felt that way.

Chances are it will be when you were very young, maybe a young child. That way of reacting is governed by the "old brain". Then write down another scenario, of how you could have responded as the adult you now are. Be specific. Some examples are: I could have asked for some time to think; I could have gone for a walk to calm down. I could have reminded myself that I normally act this way because I am scared (to be alone, to be selfish, to be abandonned and it has not been in my best interest in the past) and reassured myself that as long as I am there for myself, I'll be ok (have been up to now).

Another way to learn is to surround yourself with healthy people who deal with conflict in a safe way and to ask one friend to help you practice.

How often do you need to practice? A lot. It takes many repetitions to build new pathways and give the new brain the power to override the old emotional brain but the great news is that we can increase our emotional intelligence as long as we live (I know I am still working on mine).

Have a great week

Marguerite Tennier

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