You survived the conflict! Congratulations. You had the tough conversation, which required a lot of courage. Even if it didn't go as well as you'd hoped, congratulate yourself for facing what probably felt scary or overwhelming. Now that it's over, here are a few things you can do to help make the most of your accomplishment.
- Calm your system if it's in overdrive. If your heart is still racing, your palms sweating, or your breathing shallow, take a few seconds to get back down to baseline. This could mean taking a quick step outside, taking 5 deep belly breaths, or drinking some water. Recognize what's happening in your body and take care of it.
- Discharge the negative emotions. If your conversation was hurtful or frustrating, you probably have some negative energy pent up that you need to let go of in order to move on with your day. If there's someone at work who you trust and who is supportive, it may make sense to stop by their desk and share what happened and how you're feeling. If there's no one at work you're comfortable talking to, reach out to a loved one for encouragement. That said...
- Keep the venting to a minimum. I know, I know, it feels so good to over-analyze the conversation and throw some digs in behind your counterpart's back, but research shows that rehashing a situation angrily really only solidifies your anger. Check out these articles here and here to learn more about how to effectively manage negative emotion and the desire to vent.
- Reflect on what worked. You can either write this down or just acknowledge it in your mind, but take a few minutes to reflect on what about that conversation worked well. Did the way you started the conversation (your opener) set a positive tone? Did you keep breathing deeply throughout the conversation? Were you able to come up with a creative solution? Recognize any and everything that worked. Writing it down will help you remember that you can totally handle conflict when it comes up again.
- Write it out. If it makes sense, write out any agreements you and your counterpart(s) made and share or email them to the other parties. This will help to a) ensure that everyone is on the same page moving forward, and b) help keep everyone accountable to what was discussed. It's hard to communicate too much in the midst of conflict, and writing out agreements or next steps is one of the most effective ways to close out a conflict and move forward effectively and transparently. When in doubt, write it out.
I hope this series has helped encourage you to have the conversations you need to have while also keeping yourself safe and healthy. Conflict anywhere is difficult, but our workplaces add on layers of complexity that can be tough to manage. If you're ever in need of some more personalized conflict coaching, I hope you'll reach out here!