As the 2016 Presidential Primary season is winding down in the United States, many voters have expressed their dissatisfaction. Additionally, many clearly appear to be looking for someone to blame!
I know of no more disagreeable situation than to be left feeling generally angry without anybody in particular to be angry at. Frank Moore Colby
One theme that has surfaced in the campaigns is that certain groups of people feel “left out” or “left behind.” Naturally, the easiest thing to do is to blame a particular elected official or the political party that is in control.
Over-Simplifying Things to Blame
Many people are not keeping up with the standard of living they desire. Yet, it’s probably over-simplifying things just to blame one individual or one political party. Political campaigns often thrive on the notion that some person, group, or political party is “to blame.” That’s particularly true when there is a gap between what people think they deserve and what they actually experience.
This is not our first post on anger, frustration, and oversimplifying cause-and-effect. In each of these posts, some person or group wanted something that was not happening and was trying to resolve it.
Most likely, you have experienced times at work (or at home) when someone was very angry about something you did. Many times, the anger was probably way out of proportion to what actually happened! Possible explanations include:
- The person was in an angry mood “without anybody in particular to be angry at.” Then you entered the picture and became a convenient target.
- You did several small things in the past that annoyed this person. What you did today was “the last straw.”
Know Your Hot Buttons!
Fortunately, there are tools for examining what is going on when conflicts hit a flash point. One that we use is called the Conflict Dynamics Profile (CDP). It helps people identify behaviors or situations that trigger their negative emotional responses. These are called “Hot Buttons.”
The CDP also helps people learn how frequently they use “Constructive Responses” versus “Destructive Responses.” With increased awareness of Hot Buttons, we can learn to use constructive, rather than destructive, responses to conflict.
In general, most of us have a very limited range of responses when we experience negative emotions. It is wise to become aware of your Conflict Dynamics Profile. It can allow you to step back and select from a larger menu of options!
Questions for Reflection
- Do you find yourself blaming others when you are already angry about something else?
- On a five-point scale, from 1 to 5, how do you rate your conflict skills in a work setting?
- Would you say that you manage conflict in your personal life better, worse, or about the same as you do in the work setting?
- If there are differences in how you manage conflict in your personal life and at work, why do you think this is true?
- Without seeing a list of common Hot Buttons, what would you say can trigger a strong emotional reaction?
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