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Encountering conflict is common in our fast-paced and results-driven work environment. It is important to manage these conflicts as they arise, and I will show you how to do this in 3 steps

My name is Marc Leu, I am SAP’s Corporate Ombuds Officer for APJ and Greater China. In this role, I support clients in need of a protected and safe place where they, independent of role and title, are welcome to come and talk in confidence about any issue, problem, or dispute they face. I listen, coach, counsel, clarify and mediate, and provide mindfulness guidance.

I often serve clients that are in the middle of a conflict or difficult situation and don’t know what to do next; they often got emotionally triggered and are hesitant to further engage with the other conflict party. Not sure about you, but I myself encountered similar situations all the time - sometimes in business but also privately, sometimes highly escalated meetings but also smaller misunderstandings here and there. Now, based on my experience we can leverage and develop our emotional skills to better navigate through and engage in such challenging situations. In fact, difficult conversations often can be inspiring and a starting point for change, innovation, better relationships and so on. Here and in two subsequent blogs I want to share 3 techniques around Emotional Intelligence that you can apply when situations become tense and difficult for you:

  1. STOP when you get triggered

  2. Do a Perspective Change after you stopped

  3. Use I-messages after you did the Perspective Change

Let’s have a look at the first step STOP which stands for ‘Stop, Take a Breath, Observe, and Proceed ‘. Whenever you notice, usually in your body first, that something feels not right in a situation, that you got triggered by someone or an email, try to stop and interrupt the pattern of your usual response habits - like shouting, sending an angry email and so on - and replace it with something more constructive: move yourself from compulsion to making a choice.

Stop for a second and step aside from your current thoughts, interrupt your usual response pattern; often it helps to count to 3.

Take a Breath next by turning your attention to your in- and out-breath wherever it is most noticeable in your body. One or two breathing cycles over a couple of seconds usually are good enough, you don’t need more. And the good thing with the breath is: we always have it with us…if we are alive.

Then Observe by paying attention to your present moment experience. What is happening in your heart, in your body, in your mind and even in your environment? It may be pleasant or unpleasant - no need to judge, only notice what’s going on in this situation where you got triggered.

Finally Proceed and resume your activity with the newly acquired information from your moment of self-reflection.

The whole sequence can be done in a few seconds in stealth mode, nobody would notice that you stopped. Your response might be much more elegant and constructive than following your old habits though. Why not try it next time when you get triggered ? and let me know how it worked for you.

Are you curious about what we can do after STOP? – please have a look at my second blog Part 2 about Perspective Change

Check out more blog posts in this series: Coach’s Corner.