Interesting stuff happens in our brains when we find ourselves in a conflict situation. These responses are automatic and take a great deal of self awareness to change.
Psychologist Connie Lillas uses a driving analogy to describe the three most common ways people respond when they’re overwhelmed by stress:
- Foot on the gas. An angry or agitated stress response. You’re heated, keyed up, overly emotional, and unable to sit still.
- Foot on the brake. A withdrawn or depressed stress response. You shut down, space out, and show very little energy or emotion.
- Foot on both gas and brake. A tense and frozen stress response. You “freeze” under pressure and can’t do anything. You look paralyzed, but under the surface you’re extremely agitated.
- Accurately read another person's nonverbal communication
- Hear what someone is really saying
- Be aware of your own feelings
- Be in touch with your deep-rooted needs
- Communicate your needs clearly
The message for me from this information: Let some time pass before trying to resolve a conflict so the stress level can go down and clearer thinking can prevail. One strategy for kids and adults could be to remove them or ourselves from the situation and then simply say "Let's talk about this in a few minutes" or some other appropriate time in the future.