I’m still visiting my folks in VA and my Dad is failing. As I ponder his life, I recall what a great attorney he was, and how he could chew right through conflict. Case in point: he started his legal career defending Japanese war criminals after WWII.
I had the good fortune to read Hot Buttons: How to Resolve Conflict and Cool Everyone Down by Sybil Evans and Sherry Suib Cohen.
The mind and the body are twins. Poet Algernon Swinburne
What happens in your mind and spirit gets to your stomach and your heart.
A Hot Button is an emotional trigger and when someone pushes one of your hot buttons, you know it since it make you a little crazy. Self awareness of what makes you crazy and an awareness of others’ hot buttons—is very useful in business. It is important to know your conflict style. Before you can diffuse your hot buttons you must be clear about what inflames them. This sounds a lot like emotional intelligence to me!
The book describes 5 conflict styles:
Avoider – Make “it go away” is the goal when conflict intrudes your life
Slash-and-Burn – Tough guy who is “in-your-face”
Peace at all Costs – Harmony is the goal here
Problem Solver – No problem is insurmountable if you work at it
Exploder – Into high drama, emotional and demonstrative
This bleeds right into cooperative intelligence’s leadership, connection and communication.
Leadership – Good leaders are self-aware and observant enough to notice what triggers other’s hot buttons.
Connection – This sensitivity helps develop trusting and lasting relationships.
Communication – Hot button awareness helps us be better observers, listeners and communicators.
So how do you resolve conflicts which stem from Hot Buttons? The book outlines 5 steps:
1. Watch the Play – as though you’re the audience, not a participant. “Watch & play” creates a mental attitude of detachment and objectivity.
2. Confirm – the validity of the other person’s anger. You let them know you’re ready to listen.
3. Get more Info – by asking open-ended Questions.
4. Assert your own interests and needs. Note: this is step 4 after you have calmed down and listened to the other guy’s point of view. Now he is likely to listen to you.
5. Find common ground – for a solution with a problem-solving approach.
There are several tippers from this book that I practice to avoid conflicts:
1. People’s beliefs are not always what you assume they are. When people make wrong assumptions, it can push hot buttons.
2. Empathy is a great hot button diffuser since it acknowledges the other person’s feelings, and takes your mind off your own feelings and allows you to creep into someone else’s. This is calming during a conflict.
3. Ask questions – Questions help you learn more information about the other guy’s feelings, and give you time to cool down, if you’re angry
4. Paraphrase – By restating I can make sure I heard exactly what my partner meant me to hear. Paraphrasing also lets the other guy know I am listening, a key ingredient to conflict resolution.
Here are two books I recommend which are in a similar vein: