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Conflict Resolution: “Ohhh man, he just gets under my skin!”

Do you have anyone in your life that you just can’t seem to get along with?  Have you written that person off, or as one associate recently said, “deleted” them?  In teaching a group of people last Thursday on “Conflict Resolution” at Trevecca University, I was reminded, yet again, how critical this topic is.

When prompted a little, everyone began to share that there was “this person” who got under their skin.  If we are honest with each other, we have to admit that we all have a person (or people) in our life who rubs us the wrong way.  You know the feeling. Even thinking of them right now makes your hair stand on end and there is a slight rumbling in your belly…and it’s not even lunch time.   What is that?  More importantly how do we resolve the conflict with that person and move on towards peace?  Haven’t you spent enough time rehearsing in your mind some conversation with them that never happens?

Well, it seems we all have 3 parts to our personality:  1) Parent    2) Adult    3) Child.  There is nothing wrong with any of them.  You need your Child to be playful on the weekend.  In a fire, you need your Parent to scream to get out of the house!  The Adult is good too, when it’s time to work and you don’t feel like it.

Often times in conflict though, someone’s child is hooked by someone’s parent.  In a business meeting someone might say, “You will never make it much further than you have made it now.”   Well now, that hurt!  The child often strikes back by fleeing the situation (going to your mental room to pout).  Maybe you respond to the inappropriate comment with a fit, “Well you don’t know how far I can make it…you don’t know anything about me!” You might as well throw your jello at them.

Instead, try having your adult call out to their adult.  Usually, when someone’s adult is contacted, it will answer on instinct.  To the ignorant comment try saying, “Hey, can I pull you aside?  The comment you just made really surprised me and made me feel like you were trying to force me in a box or control me…so what exactly did you mean by that?”  Their adult will likely respond because of the respectful tone and simplicity of your question.  Isn’t it a better idea to diffuse that potentially volatile situation with some calm communication, rather than running it through your mind for weeks?

So try the adult to adult approach next time you have a situation with someone that gets under your skin and simply …exfoliate the situation.  Just a thought.

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