It’s somewhat counterintuitive to think and say we actually laugh at our interpersonal disputes! But, in my work as a conflict management coach, I have heard some clients who end up laughing – mostly at themselves – regarding their disputes. It might be things like their reactions and ways they lost their sense of humour about the differences between them and the other person. They even laugh at how the conflict got so out of hand and away from them; some say have said something to the effect that the child in them – who couldn’t get their way – appeared in their conflict.
When clients lighten up and even laugh during conflict coaching it’s typically when they are deconstructing their conflicts and gaining increased perspectives on the dynamic and their part in it. At these times they come to realize various things about themselves as they stand back from what occurred. Some of those things might humorously embarrass them, and they find some of their antics to be laughable on reflection. In some other cases – conflicts between life partners, siblings, and friends – clients have reported (on follow up) that they have laughed with the other person about what occurred – their assumptions, their sassiness, their infantile ways of coping. Those and other sorts of reflections on incidents that went off the rails can strike us as humorous as we look back. (Of course, not all conflicts present things to laugh at in any way.)
This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider a conflict and/or your part in it that you think you’d laugh at someday or, at least, would like to.
- What is the situation? How did it resolve if it did? If the conflict didn’t resolve why not?
- What did you say or do that contributed to the dissension?
- When you consider that dispute what did you say or do that you might now consider laughable?
- What, if anything, about the issues you two were disputing would you consider something to laugh at?
- What might the other person consider as something to laugh at regarding the dispute between you?
- If a good friend was watching or listening to you during the conflict, about what might they tease you regarding how you acted or reacted?
- As you look back then, what different reaction might have resulted in a better outcome?
- If the conflict you have in mind is nothing to smile at what would you like to laugh at – about yourself, your reaction, your attitude, your assumptions?
- What might you say to the other person that you know for sure would lighten the tension between you (that wouldn’t be making fun of them or the issues in dispute)?
- How might you have prevented the conflict between you if you approached it with a lighter mindset?
- What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
- What insights do you have?