"Judge not, lest ye be judged"
(Proverbs 4:14-15)

  Great advice, but impossible to put into practice. 

conflict management

You have probably heard the Proverbs warning that we shouldn't judge others. A more colloquial version is, "don't judge a book by its cover." Great sounding advice but no possible to execute because we are wired to judge, and we do it instantaneously. Our reptilian brain is on constant duty, scanning all stimuli that hits our senses, judging safe vs. threat; good vs. bad; like vs. dislike, etc. We make these judgments so fast, we are not even aware that we are doing it. But, if asked, we might say we had a gut feeling about something. 

What does this have to do with conflict? Let's follow the trail. Something happens and your reptilian brain immediately brands it as good or bad. Based on this lightning speed assessment, you have a corresponding pleasant or unpleasant feeling which then leads to action. If, for example, a friend says "let's talk," you might assess this as an invitation to something pleasant or a signal that something unpleasant is about to happen. Same words, but your reptilian brain, based on past patterns, will be triggering fight or flight or digest and rest signals. Based on these signals, you will take action. If your reptilian brain judges something as a threat when it was not, this has serious consequences for how you are interacting with others. 

That was the bad news, or perhaps the surprising news. The good news is that your prefrontal cortex, your logical, rational brain, can come to the rescue. You can put your first impression on hold and collect additional data. With additional data, you can determine whether your initial response is valid or whether you want to reassess your response. It's just a matter of being a little suspicious of your first conclusion, taking a breath, and consciously questioning that first assessment. So many conflicts could be avoided if we recognized that our gut feeling might not be right. 

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Books by Dr. Daoust

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