Mindletic website logo

Emotional regulation during moments of conflict

Picture of hands of two people, effective conflict management. Mindletic blog.

Conflict can be described as opposite goals, interests, positions, opinions or a clash of views. Types of conflicts include (1) internal and (2) social conflicts: interpersonal, intergroup and international. Interpersonal conflict can emerge in pairs and larger groups or teams. Researchers agree that all conflict is emotional to some degree.

According to Costa and colleagues (2018), while verbal cues and topics of conflict play an important role in how conflicts unfold, recent research has revealed the role of emotions as determinants of conflict outcomes.

Although there are many reasons people disagree, many conflicts revolve around personal values, perceptions, conflicting goals, power dynamics and communication styles.

Conflict management refers to the processes and strategies used to manage and resolve conflicts or disputes between individuals or groups. Effective conflict management can help to preserve relationships, maintain productivity, and improve overall communication and collaboration within a group or organization. Emotion regulation skills play a significant role in how interpersonal conflicts unfold.

What is emotion regulation?

Managing emotions in order to respond to a situation constructively and productively is what we call the process of emotional regulation. It is an essential aspect of mental health and well-being, as it can help people manage their emotions in a constructive way and reduce the negative impact of intense or overwhelming emotions on their lives.

There are several strategies that people can use to regulate their emotions, including:

Identifying and labeling emotions: This involves recognizing and naming the emotions that you are feeling. It can help you become more aware of your emotions and how they affect you.

Reframing: This strategy involves changing your perspective of a situation or event to change the emotional response it elicits. For example, if you are feeling anxious about a presentation, you might try to reframe your thoughts and focus on the skills and knowledge you have rather than on your fear of failure.

Managing physical arousal: Physical arousal, or the body’s physical response to an emotion, can sometimes contribute to the intensity of emotion. Techniques such as breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation and yoga exercises can help to reduce physical arousal and decrease the intensity of an emotional response.

Seeking social support: Sharing your feelings with someone you trust, such as a friend or family member, can provide emotional support and help you feel less alone in your emotional experiences.

During moments of conflict, it can be especially important to regulate one’s emotions to effectively communicate and resolve the issue at hand.

Here are some tips for regulating emotions during conflicts:

// Take a break: If you are feeling overwhelmed or upset, it can be helpful to take a break to calm down and collect your thoughts. You might try taking a few deep breaths, going for a walk or finding a quiet place to sit and relax.

// Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. It can help you become more aware of your emotions and the triggers that lead to them. By noticing your emotions as they arise, you can better understand and manage them.

// Use positive self-talk: Self-talk is the inner dialogue that we have with ourselves. It can be helpful to use positive self-talk to reframe negative thoughts and emotions. For example, instead of thinking “I can’t handle this,” try saying to yourself “I am capable of managing this situation.”

// Seek support: It can be helpful to talk to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist about your emotions during conflicts. They can offer perspective and help you find healthy ways to cope with your emotions.

// Use problem-solving strategies: Instead of getting caught up in negative emotions, try to focus on finding a solution to the problem at hand. It may involve actively listening to the other person, compromising, or finding common ground.

According to Dr. Nicole LePera, confidence and self-trust result from the ability to regulate our emotions.

“Most of us feel intense emotion, and we react to that emotion. Our mind starts to assign meaning to what we experience through the stories it tells. Those stories are based on our earliest life experiences. It is when we say and do things we later regret, then shame ourselves. How you deal with stress and conflict comes from how you learned to deal with it from a parent. If you had a reactive parent who was easily emotionally overwhelmed, it makes sense that these reactions are also within you. It is how your nervous system developed.”

🌱 “The practice is to pause. Breathe. To start to notice small changes you make. Staying grounded in the body. Staying grounded in the present moment.”

By practicing these strategies, you can better regulate your emotions during moments of conflict and more effectively resolve the issue at hand. It is important to note that emotion regulation is a skill that can be developed over time with practice. If you are struggling with managing your emotions, it may be helpful to seek the guidance of a mental health professional.

Want to learn more about emotion regulation or emotional intelligence in the workplace? Reach out to our team and get a free consultation now.