Having a Disagreement? Ask Permission to Have a Conflict Conversation

POSTED: Jan. 11, 2017

Chess BoardAsking for permission to have a conflict conversation? Ned, I thought you were nuts when you suggested we get in a circle for our meetings, now I know you are.

Again, no I am not nuts.

The amygdala controls the fight or flight response of the brain. This response is automatic and does not distinguish between real and perceived threat. When you feel threatened in any way, the amygdala kicks into high gear and triggers a neural response in the hypothalamus. From there, it is a cascading system that impacts blood pressure, blood sugar and the immune system.

Without turning everyone reading this into a Ph.D., let’s just say diving into a conflict conversation with no warning is not the best idea.

Suppose you made someone angry. They yelled at you and stormed off. You decide you are not going to let this just sit there so the next day at work you prance in their office and start a conversation about how they treated you the day before.

They raise their voice and the whole thing careens down a hill with no brakes.

Try asking permission to have a conversation with them. It might sound something like this, “Good Morning Jane, can we find some time later today to talk through our conversation from yesterday?”

Surely Jane knows what you want to talk about. She might say, “Sure can we meet at 11:00?” or she might say, “Not now I am still pretty salty about it.” Or she might say, “No.”

No matter the answer, in all probability your request to have the conversation most likely de-escalated the conflict, instead of having the opposite effect.

“Ned, what if she says no?” Then you have no choice but to respect that answer and walk away. That does not mean I will not ask again tomorrow. Because I will.

In my experience, the individual will come to you before you ask again. I have grown to believe that a “no” really means not now.

The whole premise behind the asking permission is to get the person to admit there is a problem and get their buy-in to resolve it. It also helps to keep the amygdala from jamming into overdrive, which is never a good thing.

Yes, this works at home as well. (Wink-Wink)