Monday, October 26, 2009

Conflict Trigger Mitigation and Avoidance

Here's the scenario:
  1. Person A wants to talk with Person B about something, and does so.
  2. But the way that Person A raises, or discusses, the issue unintentionally triggers* Person B.
  3. Person B, having just been triggered, reacts in a way that unintentionally triggers Person A.
  4. Person A, having just been triggered, reacts in a way that unintentionally re-triggers Person B.
  5. Person B, having just been triggered - and re-triggered - in a matter of moments, reacts in a way that unintentionally re-triggers Person A.
  6. Tensions and exasperations peak, for *both* Persons A and B - individually, and collectively.
  7. Any ability for Person A or Person B to engage in a meaningful or constructive way, at this point, has been lost.

Or maybe, it goes like this:

  1. Person B wants to talk with Person A about something, and does so.
  2. But the way that Person B raises, or discusses, the issue unintentionally triggers* Person A.
  3. Person A, having just been triggered, reacts in a way that unintentionally triggers Person B.
  4. Person B, having just been triggered, reacts in a way that unintentionally re-triggers Person A.
  5. Person A, having just been triggered - and re-triggered - in a matter of moments, reacts in a way that unintentionally re-triggers Person B.
  6. Tensions and exasperations peak, for *both* Persons B and A - individually, and collectively.
  7. Any ability for Person B or Person A to engage in a meaningful or constructive way, at this point, has been lost.

Likely both scenarios turn into one, big, round-and-round, ongoing, mess-of-a conflict.

Now keep in mind, no one actually has to be at fault here - Person A (or B) can be triggered just because Person B (or A) did, said, or even just *wore* something that reminded Person A (or B) of a trigger-worthy something/someone in his/her past. It's all very Pavlovian, for you Classical Conditioning fans out there. The point is, though, that triggers can be triggered for reasons totally unrelated to the "triggeree".

But, if Persons A and B can get more "consciously aware" of this whole triggers-triggering-triggers thing, they will likely WANT to work, in true partnership - yes, in TRUE partnership -, on:

  1. Trigger Mitigation - that is, helping each other to UN-trigger more quickly and effectively, should they inadvertently trigger, or be triggered by, each other;
  2. Trigger Avoidance - that is, helping each other to NOT trigger, or be triggered by, each other, nearly as often in the future.

Not to sound sales-y about it, but coaching (along with a Conflict Dynamics Profile (CDP) Assessment) is an excellent way help someone better understand his/her own triggers, how they may be unknowingly triggering others, and how to better manage these conflict dynamics.

So if you and someone - or someone and someone else you know - are in seemingly constant conflict with each other, there very well might be something we can all do about it to make things better.

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*Triggers --> Whatever causes one's fight/flight instinct to suddenly, and dramatically, engage.

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