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Hot Irritations: Strategies to Reduce Conflict Temperament

tired-hikers-249683_1280Have you noticed that you’ve been getting into more arguments lately? Or that every little thing seems to set you off? Not sure why your fuse is so short? Look no further than the outdoor thermometer!

I took notice of my more irritable state as of late. I don’t mind sweating if I’m working out or gardening, something that warrants breaking a sweat. However, I am not a fan of just sitting around and doing nothing and sweating. I am a big fan of controlled air, and I found when I sweat I feel overheated and testy.

I also became aware of the fact that the heat makes me tired which could be a side effect of not being well hydrated. I have determined that a combination of lack of hydration, sleepiness, and sweating puts me into rare form.  I became more conscious of this when I began picking fights for no reason and becoming more annoyed with my husband. I also noticed I have less patience with our puppy Alvin.

According to an article by Rachael Rettner, a senior writer for livescience.com, ” hot and especially humid weather is known to be associated with increases in aggression and violence as well as general mood.” The article goes on to explain that the limitations put on our daily activities due to the sweltering heat can cause us to be angry. Another interesting piece from the article, Rettner writes, “a lack of control over the situation may further irritate some people.”

Just another way my control issues can get the best of me! So what are we to do in these situations? Summer is the best time to soak up that vitamin D and be outside – we can’t be expected to hole up in our controlled climate houses fanning ourselves right?

* Be aware – the most important thing is that you are mindful of the fact that the heat could be affecting your mood. Be aware of what is triggering your annoyance. It is also important to remember the weather could be changing other people’s attitudes as well. So if someone seems to be biting your head off the heat could be a contributing factor.

* Take deep breaths- If you are feeling angry take some deep breaths to help focus your mind. Take a deep breath in, hold it for a few seconds and release. Just taking those few moments to refocus can help you be more aware of the conflict at hand.

* Take shade and hydrate – I am not asking that you sit inside all day, but it is important to take a break from the sun now and then to help regulate your system. Also, it is imperative that you stay hydrated especially if you are sweating, this will fend off tiredness and keep your system fresh.

* Use sunblock – I am a fair person, so I burn easily, and I know that when I get a sunburn, I am not a fun person to be around. So, keep yourself slathered in sunblock and fend off the painful burning experience.

It is important to remember to cool down before engaging in a summer battle both figuratively and literally. These may seem like common sense suggestions, but I rarely think of the weather as being a factor in a fight. Keep the weather in mind and be aware of your triggers. You will be sure to have a great summer experience!

 

Have a great week,

Abigail R.C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

 

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Are You a Fearless Challenger? Moving from Debate to Dialogue

deciding-1364439_1920I was watching the morning news where violence erupted at a recent US Presidential race rally. Hotly contested, this year’s presidential race between the Republican and Democratic parties include flying accusations, lying, shooting barbs and winning at all costs. Of these running mates, the question debated is who would best serve as the US leader? And yes, families at dinner tables, community leaders, political parties, friends, and co-workers are arguing and forcing their points of view of which candidates are relevant, competent, and reputable.  The arguments focus on who is right, points out flaws, and often takes a strong position for one candidate over the other. It is the news of the day, every day.

I bring this up because I see and hear the damage that debate causes among us versus a more constructive dialogue approach to discussing vast differences of opinions. So, what is the difference between debate and dialogue? In school, we learn that debate is a formal, structured process to bring opposing arguments over a particular topic or issue. However, what we see and experience is that informal, unstructured debate based on false assumptions, what we hear in the media, and turning that into our truths. In Daniel Yankelovich’s book, The Magic of Dialogue: Transforming Conflict into Cooperation, a debate is focused on right and wrong, truth or lie, black or white. It is taking an offense approach leading to a defense reaction. If I am right in my thinking, then you MUST be wrong in your opinion. Right? A debate involves behaviors that are often destructive and damaging to relationships, communities, and whole societies. Debating often turns into being combative, judgmental, opinionated, and insulting.

Dialogue, on the other hand, is about listening to understand and to learn about the issue discussed. Dialogue is about sharing our personal experiences as it relates to the topic without judgment of the other person’s different points of view. We all have a fundamental need to be heard and understood. Dialogue provides an opportunity to be open-minded about the differences we encounter and to engage in these differences in a constructive and productive manner. I had a wonderful opportunity to train and become a facilitator in the Soliya Virtual Connect program. The program aims to provide cross-cultural dialogues to engage people from various cultures, backgrounds and experiences from around the globe. This virtual platform tapped into strong differences of opinions on all topics from religion to social and global challenges including immigration, terrorism, gender roles, and even US Presidential candidates.

So, the similarity between debate and dialogue is that there is a topic or issue which has varying points of view that people feel strongly about and want to vocalize. Conflict will result from these discussions. An informal debate often takes a nasty turn where dialogue can promote learning and deeper understanding. In a debate, there is a winner and a loser. In dialogue, all points of view are acknowledged without the need to convince someone they are wrong. As a co-facilitator working with my partner, Kirti Kler from New Dehli, India, we worked very hard to engage our group on very difficult topics. We knew we needed to guide the conversations into conflict territory and challenge our group’s thinking, invite them to share their personal experiences while being fearless ourselves. We listened for moments of opportunity where these strong differences of opinion emerged to engage the conversation further. Sometimes, it felt daunting, scary and questionable about how we were to turn these debates into constructive dialogue. We persevered with the help of our fabulous coach, Amanda Brown and the Soliya team.  By the end of the eight weeks of dialogue sessions, the group learned skills in how to engage more effectively in dialogue within their families, local communities, and workplaces. After three months of training and facilitating, Kirti Kler, Amanda Brown and I were awarded the “Fearless Challenger” award by the Soliya team in seizing the difficult moments and turning them into opportunities for deeper understanding and learning.

Are you willing to be a Fearless Challenger? Then simply listen to learn and understand the other’s point of view. Don’t be afraid of it. Engage in the difference.

Learn more about the Soliya Virtual Connect program and how you can become involved.

Pattie Porter, LCSW

Founder and Host

The Texas Conflict Coach

 

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