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Conversation Tools - Emotions


Emotions, they color our thoughts, words, and actions, and we all know that is definitely not a good thing in most cases. The use of The Conversation Journal will give a buffer between your emotions and your responses, but that might not always be the case.  So how do we approach emotions in a conflict situation?

Emotions are often involuntary responses, which means they happen without our conscious effort. With time our emotional reaction to an event can change as well. Because they can change, we have a tendency not to treat them as concrete; however, when handling conflicts, it is important to do the opposite. The emotional response someone has in a conflict is real and felt no matter how much we agree with that response or not. When addressing conflict, it is crucial to avoid attacking emotions. Treat them as a fact and not something that needs to be changed, fixed, or negotiated away.

There is a popular older formula for conflict resolution where one uses "I" statements, (when you did X I felt Y). I do not like this approach. Obviously, it must have some merit because it is still taught in basic conflict management classes. For children, I find it is not helpful. It allows the child to put the responsibility of their emotions on the other person. I have 5 young children, and with all of them that have used that formula, they have had a tendency to place the blame of their emotional response on the other person.

In our house we try to use another formula, also taught in conflict management classes "cause and effect" statements. For example; when you did X here is how it affected me. Once the child has then solved the conflict that arose from that we can individually address feelings; when affect X happened, I felt Y, and I chose to do Z. We have found that this approach helps our kids own their own roll in their emotional response as well as the actions that then come from that.