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How/where did you learn to manage conflict?

(63 Posts)
InnocenceAndExperience Fri 07-Nov-14 22:09:40

I'm rubbish at it. Get overly emotional, stressed, worked up in advance.

I see other dealing with difficult situations so much better.

Did you learn in your family, with friends? At work?

nrv0us Fri 07-Nov-14 22:19:59

I'm like you -- really never learned it. I feel like I am missing a lot of critical tools from my emotional toolkit. I tend to panic and get defensive or withdrawn in any kind of intense emotional conversation. I am getting better at it, but it takes work. The irony is that I use words for a living (writer) but in face-to-face situations I get this heart-racing fight-or-flight response to things that really don't merit it.

InnocenceAndExperience Fri 07-Nov-14 22:37:06

I think my 'ishoos' stem from how my parents reacted, so if someone treated me unfairly they didn't protect me, and if I had a problem they tended to make out it was me causing the trouble. I realise now that it was because they were both terrible at dealing with conflict themselves.

So its fear that even if I'm 100% sure I'm right and that rationally its OK to say something, it will not end well.

Jux Sat 08-Nov-14 13:00:04

At home, where we learnt to talk things through. At work where it was obviously the sensible way to deal with difficulties. One of the most i,portant things I learnt about managing conflict was to listen.

Sadly, none of it works in my marriage sad

Dowser Sat 08-Nov-14 13:46:54

I did a women's assertiveness course about 30 years ago.

Was brilliant, had a brilliant teacher. I used to speak up for myself but was inclined to be a bit aggressive.

I learned to look at the other persons point of view a bit better.

Not everyone was coming at me with a sharp pointed stick lol.

mymummademelistentoshitmusic Sat 08-Nov-14 14:04:59

I think coming from a large family helps. One day you're biting someone's calf while they're slapping your head with a rolled up Beano the next you're friends.
Ok, that's extreme or not, but it helps you keep a perspective. Whatever happens its just passing, and not the end of the world. Taunts? Pah. You learn to ride the wave of taunting gringrin
Stood me I'm great stead both personally and professionally, as a 21 year old Prison Officer I coped (in some situations) better that people twice as old with long service.
Apart from that, sometimes, it's just in your personal make up.
The poster above that said their parents never stuck up for them - that resonated with me as something similar happened when a few children at my dc's primary were allowed to seemingly get away with everything at one point. That even got to me, never mind my, and other children.

mymummademelistentoshitmusic Sat 08-Nov-14 14:06:29

A few children with behavioural issues, sorry I missed that bit out.

redexpat Sat 08-Nov-14 14:52:45

From the marriage course, certainly not from my parents!

InnocenceAndExperience Sat 08-Nov-14 16:18:40

The thing is I don't argue with my own children (teens). We listen. We work it out. Its the family I grew up with I have a problem with - my brother, and my mum's family. There is stuff going on that needs to be resolved, but I feel like I go into every discussion at an enormous disadvantage because I feel so upset.

I'm ok at work unless I don't feel listened to, and then its the same.

Nonie241419 Sat 08-Nov-14 16:36:26

I didn't. My parents just yelled at each other and didn't really solve anything. I'm better with my DC than I am with adults, in that I do try to have a dialogue and try to have the courage of my convictions. With adults, including DH, I just back down, stop speaking and hope the conflict goes away. It never benefits me, but the habits of submission are so ingrained, i can't seem to shake them.

InnocenceAndExperience Sat 08-Nov-14 16:48:19

My parents didn't row but my mum didn't resolve issues. I feel she thought women should use charm and servitude to get what they wanted.

Meerka Sat 08-Nov-14 19:38:03

Assertiveness course really helps.

Making a plan how to handle things also helps. Literally sitting down, writingout various likely scenarios and then planning how to handle them.

InnocenceAndExperience Sun 09-Nov-14 09:26:05

I've got a very difficult family meeting coming up, with someone who dismisses most of what I say out of hand and won't accept any information that he receives via me, even if I'm reporting back from a professional.
Sometimes he will acknowledge that my experience is in line with his own, but he can still dismisses what I have to say.

His body language: no eye contact. twisting hands.

[I have often thought he might be a bit NPD].

Tips for how I get through this welcome. So far we have a neutral place at a date of his choice.

This is an improvement from 'we don't really need to have this meeting'.

GarlicNovember Sun 09-Nov-14 09:39:51

Congrats on getting the meeting! See, you can do it grin

If your opponent has a highly-defended ego (wink) you will not be able to get them to see your point of view. He can only see interactions as battles, in which he will either gain leverage for his own ego-driven agenda or suffer a loss to his ego. Losses to his ego feel like annihilation to him. He has no capacity to appreciate that other people exist as complex humans like himself, and is therefore unable to accept compromises. With somebody like this, you must either schmooze him into feeling like the king of the world or force him into a solid checkmate.

Does this really describe his character? What prompts the hand-twisting?

InnocenceAndExperience Sun 09-Nov-14 10:02:55

you must schmooze him into feeling like the king of the world

I think this is the approach most likely to succeed. It makes me feel nauseous, as it means I have to pretend a respect for him that frankly has been lost.

Regrettably he knows I think he's a total prick because previously unsuccessful interactions have led to this information exploding from my gob.

'hand-twisting' - sign of anxiety?

rumbleinthrjungle Sun 09-Nov-14 10:05:49

I didn't. Grew up in a household with a highly volatile df throwing loud tantrums and a family policy of no boundaries, no self defense allowed and never upsetting or challenging him under any circumstances. In my late 20s a very lovely friend gently taught me basic functional relationship skills. MN has helped no end to further this education in the last few years. wink

rumbleinthrjungle Sun 09-Nov-14 10:08:25

Sorry, cross post and the thread's moved on.

Yes, I'd think hand twisting was anxiety.

Joysmum Sun 09-Nov-14 10:13:14

I got much of mine from work, I used to work in quality and compliance (which is code for customer complaints and following them through to hold staff accountable and identify training issues). It wasn't an easy or popular position to hold!

We'd follow a cycle of listen, acknowledge and repeat back the key points so other person knew you understood and then give info clearly and ask them to repeat or amend as needed.

I was also taught how to shut down a situation I wasn't comfortable with.

Of course, there's a lot more to it in terms of body language, yours and there's, that is less easy to teach.

I also found it a lot easier to manage conflict in work than in my personal life. In work I have a persona, in life there's no persona to be had as I'm known personally.

InnocenceAndExperience Sun 09-Nov-14 10:22:38

Not at all rumble - all experiences shared are welcome.

I think that it would have helped me a lot in my early life if someone had acknowledged some of the bad behaviour and poor dynamics around me and helped me to see that my point of view was valid, and how to learn to live with what you can't change.

Its the feeling that there is no solid ground under your feet that's so difficult.

Joys that sounds like great experience. I think the cycle you talk about is a good tip - I tend to jump in when I feel frustrated.

GarlicNovember Sun 09-Nov-14 10:24:24

In your experience, what's his anxiety about? Fear of conflict? Fear that you want to annihilate him? Do you know what relieves his anxiety?

InnocenceAndExperience Sun 09-Nov-14 10:31:46

I don't know, Garlic. He isn't very self-aware from my experience. However, I think its important to him that he has people's good opinion.

Phineyj Sun 09-Nov-14 10:36:52

I learnt quite a lot from some psychometric tests I was made to do on a business course once - I had a lightbulb moment regarding why I'd clashed with particular colleagues in the past. I also gained skills from courses I took in the NHS. My parents are both conflict avoiders so I had to acquire most of these skills in the workplace - I do find I can sometimes transfer them to my personal life. OP - what do you need to get out of your difficult meeting?

Phineyj Sun 09-Nov-14 10:38:23

Aha - if he likes others to think well of him, it might help to take someone with you who he has more respect for (am assuming you need him to agree to do something or sign up to something).

InnocenceAndExperience Sun 09-Nov-14 10:41:10

Phineyj We need to make a decision.

Its about what happens to our mum, who is no longer able to make decisions for herself.

InnocenceAndExperience Sun 09-Nov-14 10:42:24

... I have asked a respected friend to give him a friendly call to discuss the issues but not sure that this will happen as its a big ask in the circumstances.

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