Conflict # 62 – Your Inner Language

In my previous articles you may have read about the mistakes made by virtually everyone when trying to resolve a conflict. Let’s look at one of the big mistakes. Actually a three-part mistake.

First, assuming you know what others are thinking.

Second, assuming you know the motives or reasons for their behavior. 

Third, expressing your assumptions out loud.

Why is this a big mistake? It’s because when we assume, we’re usually wrong, and expressing a faulty assumption provokes defensiveness. Communication comes to a halt, and you lose the chance to resolve the conflict.

Now, let’s go deeper. We all have the tendency to assume … and our  assumptions are a result of beliefs stored in our memory – beliefs about life, about ourselves, the world, people, and so on. These long-held beliefs profoundly affect our major life decisions, our relationships and our way of coping with stress and conflict. Further, these beliefs find expression in random thoughts throughout the day.

Let’s focus on the moment-to-moment thoughts; they also affect the way we handle conflict. We can refer to these thoughts as our “self-talk”.

Most of our self-talk takes place as if it has a life of its own, like a knee-jerk reflex. We don’t choose those thoughts; they happen automatically. And they can help us, or they can harm us. 

Here’s an example. In a recent session a client told me that her way of de-stressing is to go shopping. She also said she’s put on a lot of weight, and she really “needs” to start exercising. As we talked, she realized she could exercise in place of shopping. Her words were: I could “make myself” go to the gym. Now, she spoke this out loud, but this is the kind of thing we do in our silent self-talk as well. The language we use when we think to ourselves, or when we react automatically, has a very powerful effect on our behavior. 

Think about it. If you have to “make yourself” go to the gym, will you be motivated to do it? When I asked her that, she laughed and said, “Oh, geez, that sounds like a chore.” Then she realized that she could use different words – words with a positive feeling – to motivate her to exercise. In other words, she could choose her self-talk so that the self-talk helps her.

There’s a lot more to it, and if you’d like to know how you can change your self-talk to help you handle conflict, please reach out. The number for a free consultation is 219-309-3928. I’d be honored to talk to you.

Thanks for reading!