It is somewhat counterintuitive to think and say that we actually laugh at our interpersonal arguments! But, in my work as a conflict management coach, I’ve heard of clients who end up laughing – mostly at themselves – about their differences. It can be things like their reactions and how they lost their sense of humor about the differences between themselves and the other person. They even laugh at how the conflict has gotten so out of control and away from them; some say they said something to the effect that the child in them – who couldn’t cope – came out in their conflict.
When clients relax and even laugh during conflict coaching, it is usually when they are deconstructing their conflicts and gaining heightened perspectives on the dynamics and their role in it. At these times, they realize various things about themselves as they take a step back from what happened. Some of these things might embarrass them humorously, and they find some of their antics laughable on reflection. In other cases – conflicts between life partners, siblings and friends – clients reported (during follow-up) that they laughed with the other person about what had happened – their assumptions, their impertinence , their infantile ways of coping. These and other reflections on incidents that went off the rails can strike us as humorous as we look back. (Of course, not all conflicts are laughable in any way.)
This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider a conflict and/or your role in it that you think you’ll someday laugh at, or at least enjoy.
- What is the situation? How did it resolve if it did? If the conflict has not been resolved, why not?
- What did you say or do that contributed to the dissension?
- When you consider this dispute, what have you said or done that you might now consider laughable?
- What about the issues, if any, that you two were fighting over, would you consider something you could laugh at?
- What might the other person consider something to laugh about the dispute between you?
- If a good friend was watching or listening to you during the conflict, what might they be teasing you about the way you acted or reacted?
- Looking back, what different reaction could have resulted in a better result?
- If the conflict you have in mind is nothing to laugh about, what would you like to laugh about – about yourself, your reaction, your attitude, your assumptions?
- What could you say to the other person that you know for sure would ease the tension between you (that wouldn’t be making fun of them or the issues in dispute)?
- How could you have prevented the conflict between you if you had approached it with a lighter frame of mind?
- What else happens to you when you think about these questions?
- What ideas do you have?