Positive Psychology and Mindfulness in Conflict Solution

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Introduction

Conflicts are part of our daily interactions, especially at the workplace. They can be minimized, but there will still be some conflict cases. When people get into a conflict, they should find the right way of expressing themselves respectfully, listening, and understanding the other party to find a resolution for the battle. Mindfulness practices are excellent ways of managing conflicts and enabling resolutions as they result in positive emotions, which are negative at the start of the conflict.

The Conflict

In one of the departments that I worked two years ago, there was a conflict surrounding supervision and powers. The newly recruited finance department head would wake up and bombard people with questions during their working hours, and people felt that he was too much on them. Finances are quite complicated, and therefore asking questions by mouth and understanding; all the mathematics is not possible. He would come, ask questions, and demand answers and those he would not understand he would conclude that they were not doing their work as they ought to. Finance department employees raised the concerns to the manager as they could not put up with the finance head any longer.

Environmental Factors That Led to the Emotional Response

One environmental factor that led to this emotional response was organizational culture. Organizational culture is the collective behavior that people in an organization attach to their actions (Isa, 2015). With the former finance head, there was no abrupt questioning of finance department employees as each would give a weekly report, which would keep him updated. They had the belief that stories should be given weekly through writing, but now the new head was doing it haphazardly. Another environmental factor that led to the conflict was authority relationships. There was tension between the finance head and the employees as employees felt that the finance head was harassing them. To the employees, it felt like the finance head wanted to show the manager that he was performing by being unnecessarily harsh on them. They felt this was unfair as their job descriptions required them to compile and submit reports weekly.

Mindful Practices That Can Be Applied to Improve the Conflict or Environmental Factors

One of the mindfulness practices that the employees in the finance department would have implemented in the conflict was to stay aware of their emotional reactions. In as much as they felt that the finance head was too much, the employees must avoid reacting because of the emotions at that moment when the head is asking constant questions. The body has automatic feedback with the thoughts, and they should keep disrupting the automatic feedback (Riskin & Wohl, 2015). They must acknowledge that they have to stress thoughts and feelings, but they should avoid reacting to them. They should then check their emotions against the facts.

Another mindfulness practice is that the parties should stay present to the situation. People tend to make assumptions, but this should be avoided, especially by the employees who are feeling offended. Once they lay their concerns out to the head, they should not out restrictions on their response rather have open-ended questions to understand his perspective and experience (Tang, Hölzel, & Posner, 2015). Lastly, both parties must remember that it is not all about each party. In conflict resolution, both parties have their side of the story and have their concerns addressed. Therefore they should both try to understand each other’s perspective and have compassion with each other even if they do not agree with the other party’s position. This can be very helpful in minimizing conflict escalation.

Mindful Practices in Future Conflicts

These mindfulness practices can be applied in future conflicts of the same or different nature. In any conflict, both parties should be aware of their reactions. During conflicts, emotions tend to rise, which may cause one to react in a manner they would not imagine. Therefore anytime people engage in a conflict, they must know that they have emotions that may make them respond wrongly (Riskin & Wohl, 2015). With this acknowledgment, they can get feelings but avoid reacting as it may worsen the situation.

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Secondly, in any conflict, parties must always avoid making assumptions. What makes people angry and to react in a conflict is their assumptions on why a person did something they regard not well. People should avoid making assumptions in all cases and allow the other party to explain their actions. If at all, a party has questions, they should be open-ended and fit in their shoes to understand them better. The reason why conflicts escalate is that each party thinks it is all about them. This makes them not ready to listen to or understand the other party. No party is empathetic as they want their way. In all conflicts, parties should be prepared to listen to the other party, be kind to think from their perspective even if they do not agree with them (Tang, Hölzel, & Posner, 2015). With this in mind, conflicts would not escalate.

Mindful Practices in Promoting an Emotional Response

By being aware of one’s emotional reaction, one avoids being angry. This practice makes one self-aware, and they, therefore, cannot react out of temporal emotions; instead, they will reason and respond respectfully. Once a person acknowledges their emotional reactions, they will not get angry, and their moods will not be affected. Thereby the conflict will not escalate. This also helps maintain physical and mental health.

These mindfulness practices help parties make better use of their strengths. This is the result since a person will be able to express their character strengths in a balanced and sensitive manner to the conflict at hand. By listening to the other party, one gets relieved of suffering and cultivates strengths and positive characteristics such as well-being, compassion, and wisdom (Donaldson, Dollwet, & Rao, 2015). One becomes aware of who he/she is as well as their strengths. Lastly, mindfulness practices enable them to become resilient. Since their attitude towards conflict is positive, they can recover from challenges and adapt well to changes. The part of the human brain called anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), responsible for resilience, will enable them to be self-regulated and learn from past experiences to make the right decisions (Tang, Hölzel, & Posner, 2015). Seeing things from the other party's perspective will change the way their brain responds to challenges, and they will be, therefore, in a position to make better decisions.

Plan of Action

When faced with a conflict, people should have a plan on how they are going to deal with it so that the outcome will not be regrettable. I recommend the following plan of action in mindfulness conflict resolution. The first is always to pause. Whenever there is a conflict, one should avoid lashing out instead, breath slowly and let the air in and out of the body. This will help prevent one from acting out of emotions, immediately causing more trouble than it was (Cho et al., 2016). Secondly, one should acknowledge the feelings of that moment. One should recognize that they may be hurt, embraced, or angry, and all of this is natural. However, they should not make one react to them as with time; they will settle.

Thirdly, it is crucial to do a brief body scan. Physical sensations mostly come as a result of thoughts and emotions. Assess things like muscle tensions in the body, clenching of the jaw, twitching of leg muscle, or even the urge to flee. This will help in understanding self-better. Fourthly, one can try to settle into their breath. With emotions associated with conflicts, one tends to pose after each breath. One should try to pause, relax, and soften the muscles. After some time, one becomes more relaxed (Cho et al., 2016).

The fifth step is to acknowledge that one has space to choose. Yes, as a person, one is upset, but one should not think it. One may even express that they are angry and now be patient with self. If the emotions go too high, then the best option is to move away for some time, then come back when calm (Riskin & Wohl, 2015). The next step is to challenge the assumptions one would have. For example, one may assume the reasons why someone did something to them and be wrong. It is, therefore, essential to be open-minded to what the other party says. Give them the freedom to air their views and express feelings. By eliminating assumptions, it is then easy to understand things from the other party's perspective.

The seventh step is to avoid harmful speech. With the emotions at that moment, one may feel like abusing the other party. However, this is not helpful; one should try explaining clearly and respectfully (Tang, Hölzel, & Posner, 2015). Next is to suggest a resolution to the conflict. It is crucial to overcome the conflict by having resolutions to be sure to give both benefits and challenges of the suggestion. Lastly, one has to forgive and move on. Holding onto anger hurts self and makes relationships unbearable. Everyone should be ready to forgive so that things can continue as usual.

Conclusion

Mindfulness practices help result in positive emotions. Depending on the conflict at hand, the parties or a mediator should come up with and implement mindfulness practices as a way of solving the conflict at hand and other conflicts that may come up in the future. To contain self during a conflict and through the conflict resolution process, one must know they meditation process and have a way of managing their thoughts and emotions. This helps avoid chaotic scenes, be able to understand the other party better, find a resolution, and create a better relationship with the other party.

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