1 It’s all in your head
As with everything we do in this program, we start with you – because in the end, as a manager, when everything goes pear shape, sometimes the only thing you can make any difference to is the way you respond to it – and in most cases, that makes all the difference!!
OK – when it comes to conflict and anger, there is a lot of stuff we are up against and will be hard to change. But enhancing our awareness of this will help us choose our response – and there are a lot of different responses to conflict – which we will look at in a minute.
How we are wired influences to a large extent how we respond to conflict.
To totally oversimplify the brain for the purpose of this exercise, there are two important parts relating to conflict: they are:
1. The limbic system – the lizard brain – which is in charge of emotions – fight and flight, unthinking responses – this part is what fires when we are really in trouble – when our lives are in danger – which is good because we react instinctively and fast – with no thought.
2. The other bit that is of interest is the pre-frontal cortex. This is responsible for regulating our emotions, inhibiting actions, or helping us to think before we react. The pre-frontal cortex is also responsible for intuition and empathy – it pulls together ‘sub-cortical regions and your body – like your heart and gastrointestinal tract – giving you that ‘gut feeling’ about things. It is also responsible for linking past, present and future, social awareness and attuned communication – seeing the bigger picture – and meta-cognition – being aware that you are having thoughts, emotions and sensations. Dr Daniel Friedland talks a lot about this is terms of peak performance. Check him out at http://supersmarthealth.com/daniel-friedland/
Our psychological response to stressful situations, like conflict is pretty much the same as our physical response: we trigger the fear, flight and fight response, we release adrenalin, our breath becomes shallow, we get a pit in the stomach. This hijacks our PFC and all the related circuits of awareness, so much so that we may not even be aware that we are ‘loosing it’.