May 24, 2022 Vas Nair

Mindfulness And Working Through Conflict  

Dealing with the uncertainty and stressful emotions in any conflict can unto itself be a barrier to solving it. Perhaps its why many people tend to put it off or not ever deal with a difficult scenario. However, ignoring it might lead to even bigger problems such as uncomfortable interactions with others, a breakdown in communications and disruptions to work. None of this will make the situation any better!

Effectively tackling conflict involves preparing for the conversation – which among other steps includes delving into the facts, looking into possible solutions and getting advice from others. To support the process in a calm and well thought out way is Mindfulness. In other words, let’s start with ourselves and be more aware of what’s happening within and around us, before reacting to the situation. 

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is about being aware of where we are and what’s going on around us. It requires us to move away from dwelling on the past OR trying to predict the future. It’s about being fully aware of this present moment in time. Mindfulness helps us to focus, not be distracted, and to get to a calm place. Practicing meditation regularly can help achieve this.

Mindfulness requires us to be in tune with our emotional, mental, and physical connections – so that we’re heightening the awareness and understanding of ‘where we are’. It’s about being in tune with our whole selves. A few important aspects to Mindfulness are – to observe, not be judgmental, to understand what works for us and what doesn’t. This is self-observation without judgement.

Our mind is a powerful place with lots of pathways and tunnels. It’s easy for us to travel along one pathway and within a moment detour into a tunnel. After years of this habit, we’re usually not aware when this occurs. For example, you could be having a conversation with a customer when suddenly your mind deviates to an argument with a loved one from several years before. 

Yes, it can be difficult to be ‘present in the moment’, especially when we multitask and maneuver the many daily distractions. However, with meditation and practice, there is the opportunity to evaluate things with a sense of calm and to be thoughtful about next steps. I see this as training to ‘help us help ourselves.’ 

At a very high level, Mindfulness is about taking a pause, focusing on breathing, being aware of our body and senses and releasing the tension. 

(There has been so much written about this topic and its benefits to health and wellbeing, so I encourage you to explore this topic further.)

So, how can mindfulness help us deal with conflict?

Remember a time when a situation seemed to be getting out of control OR that walking away from it appeared to be the best way to salvage one’s sanity? Well, if the conflict was so stressful, then doesn’t it make sense to find a way to not feel overwhelmed or anxious? Getting to a place where we can truly be present allows us to clear our mind and emotions. This helps us to define and assess the conflict, as well as those involved in it more clearly. More clarity encourages a fresher perspective and renewed thinking about the issue. And being calm steers us away from gritting our teeth when confronted by others involved in the conflict! Therefore, it’s a path towards improving communications and relationships. I see this part of it as being in the here and now, so that we can take steps towards moving forward.

When we jump to judge someone or dwell on the things that won’t work, it leads us down a corridor of assumptions and hasty decisions, eventually resulting in anger and frustration. This isn’t where we want to be when dealing with conflict. Unfortunately, in the midst of a difficult situation, we may not think about being calm first and then addressing the problem. Somehow, at that moment, it may appear to make more sense to jump into solving it immediately. In fact, this is the opposite of exploring the most effective solution, as we will likely fall into habitual patterns of judgement. 

Mindfulness comes with practice

My first few attempts in exercising Mindfulness bombed! Why? Because I was allowing interruptions to get in the way, even when I thought I was meditating. So, jumping to answer the phone as soon as it rang clearly showed me that I wasn’t calm and focused on clearing my mind. Eventually, I trained myself to think about why this is important and invested ten minutes, twice a day, as a give back to myself. Feeling guilty about taking this time for myself was the first hurdle I had to overcome.

Concentrate, Observe, Describe, Participate, Release are all words you will encounter when you look into Mindfulness exercises. You can do this at your own pace – anytime, anywhere. There are many benefits to practicing this, such as emotional calmness, mental agility, improving communication, feeling more confident and strengthening relationships. But the first step is committing to do it. 

I like to think of Mindfulness as Being Kind to Ourselves and Others. Take the time and invest in yourself first and allow Mindfulness to help you improve the way you tackle conflict and just about any other challenging scenario. 

Giraffe HR App - Creators Vas Nair and Sobha Nair

Hi there!

We’re Vas and Sobha Nair, two sisters that have lived and breathed all aspects of human resources for over 50 years between us. Giraffe was born from our global experience coaching leaders and business owners navigate the same tricky workplace issues and discussions that you face. We know the best practices and proven processes that help turn workplace conflict on its head – and we want to share all of this and more with you in Giraffe.

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