Reduce Conflict with a Do-It-Yourself Leak Kit

dam-leak

We can all leak like a dripping faucet. Wanting others to stop our leak or collect our water. Most conflict starts right here, with a leak.

A fight starts when you leak your feelings into the relationship. With too much pressure on the pipe, it may burst. The more you focus on what the other is doing, the more pipes are leaking and bulging. The kitchen sink gets involved, and defensive and attacking postures ignite.

Now, you are arguing about how you are talking to each other, instead of the original problem. You are so mad that you have forgotten what started the fight. When conflict gets this intense, it can be hard to contain the leak.

How do we reduce conflict?

Conflict equals putting pressure on others to change. While you may never eliminate conflict, you can reduce it. I’m not talking about keeping the peace at all cost or hiding in a cave.

The most important tool in reducing conflict is learning the difference between “we” and “I” problems. The more you work on yourself, the more you won’t need to leak. The less pressure you put on your loved one, the more personal your connection will become.

I get leaky, we all do. While I can’t stop all my leaks, I can get better at recognizing my part in the conflict. And, I can get faster at catching my leaks. Let me share some tools I have for repairing my own leaks.

3 Tools to Put in your Leak Repair Kit:

1. Identify

Our emotions react faster than our awareness. Our thinking brain is slower to catch up. Once you realize you are having a feeling, identify it, and own it.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone doesn’t respond to my message – phone call, email, letter, it’s all the same to me. In the past, I would have told the person that “it hurt my feelings.” This typically invites defensiveness, and hen the conflict starts.

I’ve repeated this conflict many times, with many different people. And, I’m starting to learn that I take their non-response very personally. I take it to mean that they don’t care about me. I’m learning that this is only one of many ways to think about it.

2. Create

Create ways to soothe your own feelings. It can be by changing your thoughts or saying soothing statements to yourself. Or, you may find it more soothing to do something, such as reading, deep breathing, exercising, cleaning, etc. Find what works for you to calm yourself, so you don’t need to leak.

I’m learning that if someone doesn’t respond to my message, it almost always has nothing to do with me. It’s more likely that it is a reflection of the other person. I change my thinking and broaden my perspective. Their actions aren’t a reflection of how they feel about me. My feelings are soothed.

3. Decide

Once you have calmed your reaction, decide whether or not to communicate your feelings. Can you tell your loved one how you are feeling without pressuring them to change? Are you letting your loved one know you are having a leaky moment, but are working on repairing it? That’s personal, not pressure.

I may decide to tell my loved one, “I am worrying again that you don’t want to talk to me.”And when I do, I am not pressing for a discussion, just letting myself be known, in this moment.

Or, I may chose to not communicate my emotions. Instead, I work on communicating what I’m thinking, planning, or doing. “I’d love to catch up” (but am okay if we don’t).

“There are no mistakes or failures, only lessons.” – Denis Waitley

I’m getting better at managing my own feelings. Yet, there will always be those days when I need a do-over. I wake up the next morning, ready to learn from the previous day. Each day is filled with opportunity to learn about myself and what it’s like to be in a relationship with me.

What tools do you have in your repair kit?

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Photo Credit – The Leak by Patrick Emerson

3 responses to “Reduce Conflict with a Do-It-Yourself Leak Kit

  1. What a nice post that seeks to add calm and peace to our relationships. It’s true that we need to be reminded that if we’re in a conflict, there are things we can do to diffuse the heat and that it’s possible to depersonalize the issue; something I’m learning from my much-more-evolved husband.
    Instead of allowing to get my buttons pushed, I can take a step back and see the issue in a clinical, impersonal way. It really makes dealing with the issue at hand a lot easier.

  2. Pingback: Take Heated Conflict to a Cooperative Decision | Liberating Choices