Conflict is an action, like a Swinging Angry Man (SAM). Try to contain SAM and he won’t be happy. What to do instead? Give SAM a doable, “safe” action.
What is a doable action? Something, that I know SAM can successfully do and help him move that anger out of his system like,
The bonus of providing a doable action is that it creates an opening and thus an exit for SAM out of the volatile scene at hand. The last podcast was on Creating an Exit and it will provide you with great info on the power of an Exit and how to create an exit… Now back to SAM.
Instead of telling SAM to “stop swinging” I can say, “Take a step back” or “Lift your arms” Both doable actions.
or I can say my favorite phrase, “Walk with me Please.”
In this podcast episode, I discuss an epic crisis intervention that I took part in at a remote setting – read: farmer’s field. I was camped out waiting for the Bread and Puppet Circus to begin. Thousands of people use to camp out in northern Vermont for a weekend event of puppets and pageantry at the Bread and Puppet base in Glover, Vermont. I was camping with family and friends on a field when a fight broke out at a nearby encampment of circus goers.
The scene had a real potential to escalate into a fist fight or worse. I provided the parties involved with an action and made a bad scene safe. I used the “Walk with me Please” phrase and it worked like a charm.
You can read along with me via my book: Leading Chaos; An Essential Guide to Conflict Management Revised Edition 2010. Go to page 59 and the scenario called Creating an Alliance at the Campground