Tag Archives: Escalate

You Pick

23 Jan

We interact with all kinds of people every day. Sometimes we say hello in passing, sometimes we have long conversations and work together, and sometimes we have disagreements. If a discussion becomes intense, the disagreement may escalate. When things become contentious and tempers rise, we may become very uncomfortable. But we always have a choice to continue the conversation and let it play out no matter what, or stop and return to it again another time. Unfortunately, when we’re in the heat of the situation, especially if offensive things are being said, we may get so caught up that we forget to think about anything but pushing forward. Being in control of ourselves is easy when things are going well but when we’re in conflict it’s harder and more difficult to manage. However, no matter what is said or done, we always have the opportunity to choose how we will proceed. We can step back until things settle down, or we can go storming ahead and give it all we’ve got. We get to pick. Of course, the other party gets to pick too. But if they’re pressing the argument and we don’t want to continue, we can step away.

As human beings, we have all kinds of instinctive survival mechanisms. The fight or flight reflex is part of that. If we feel we’re being attacked, it prompts us to either fight back or leave the situation. Which way we go depends on how we’re wired and how much self-control we can exercise at the time. For some of us the first response to threat is to fight. For others the first thought is to run – or leave the situation. We’re all geared a little differently but no matter what we instinctively feel, we have the option to control our response by thinking about it first. If we’re fighters, that means we have to stop before we escalate the situation further and think of a better plan. If we’re runners, we have to be brave enough to face the situation and determine how to navigate it more effectively. Either way, the choice is ours. The excuse some offer when things go wrong of, “That’s just how I am,” is unhelpful. Conflict comes to us all. How we manage it is up to us.

Sometimes even if we try to modify a volatile situation, or try to diffuse the tension, the other party will not back down. That is their choice and if that happens and nothing we say or do improves the situation, if things continue to escalate and we don’t feel secure, we can walk away. We don’t have to stay engaged in any interaction that makes us feel distressed or threatened. We are entitled to do what is best for us. Even if the other party has some sort of authority over us, we may calmly state that we are not comfortable and need to leave. Sometimes just stating our discomfort will diffuse the situation and things will improve. Sometimes not. Every situation is different but we have the right to feel calm and safe in all our dealings. We are valuable and important. We can pick what we’ll do and what we’ll take. We can choose to stay and continue an exchange or we can leave. Leaving doesn’t mean we’re conceding or giving up. It means we are choosing to control how we will go forward.

Today if you’re involved in a discussion that makes you uncomfortable, decide how you want to handle it. You can try to work through it or you can leave and return to it another time. You can be polite and respectful and get what you need to go forward. Your feelings are valuable and should be honored. You can be in control of yourself. Be confident and choose what is best for you.

Running With Scissors

9 Oct

Everyone tries to make good decisions and do things that will bring them happiness and success. We work hard at what we want to accomplish and try to learn as we go. But sometimes we get a little sidetracked and do things that work against us. We might say something spiteful back to someone who has hurt our feelings, or take revenge on someone because of something they did to us. These responses do nothing positive for us, but at times it feels like they give us some satisfaction. Unfortunately, they don’t ever work in our favor and do nothing to move us forward. Instead of resolving a situation, if we do things like these oftentimes we end up escalating it. It’s like running with scissors. We might get to a destination faster but the risk of making things worse is real and present.

If we’ve been hurt and are angry, returning pain for pain is always an option. We can hit back, return nasty barbs, or do something else to even the score. Unfortunately if we take this route, often instead we just up the ante. And then we have to even the score again. If things continue to escalate, the situation can get out of hand and we lose control of the objective. In every conflict we have a choice. We can try to diminish it or we can make it worse. Making it worse is never in our best interest. If we make that our pattern, we may spend a lot of time wrestling with issues instead of solving them. But it’s not fair for us to be treated badly, and sometimes we feel like we have to do something to make things right. But making things right is rarely achieved when a contest of wills gets intense.

The only way to handle a situation when we’ve been hurt, or maligned, is to be in control. The best way to gain control is to return better behavior for the insult. If someone says we’re an idiot, we don’t have to agree, but we could quietly and politely say something to diffuse the situation. If we aren’t attacking in our response, the other party has nothing to rebut. It takes two to argue and if we lower the tension, the argument has a better chance of becoming a conversation. If someone says something that deeply hurts or ridicules us, we could simply thank them for their opinion and say nothing more. Many times when others attack us personally they expect a fight. They have volleyed the first serve over the net and are in control. We can take that control away from them by managing what happens next. It isn’t easy but we are capable of deflating the conflict by being polite, and calm. Most people who like to fight like to pick on others who will take the bait. We can determine not to take it. We can decide to take control instead. And if we do, we win.

Today if someone is baiting you into an argument, if you’ve been insulted or demeaned, you don’t have to enter the fight. You can take control of the situation be being calm and polite. No matter what happens you can return your best behavior. You can be better, and you can silence the conflict. You are strong and capable of making excellent choices. Today make the choice that puts you on top. That’s the best place to be, and is exactly where you belong.