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Jun 28

cage the chimp with conflict

Published by Ralph Moody

News

On the last management blog, we discussed how paradigms cause us issues regarding our mindset and how we do things sometimes without thinking about them.  Research shows that 80% of our thinking is subconscious thinking and therefore throughout our working day we are using paradigms.  In other words, we have created habits of thought.  Of course, this can be positive if our thoughts are positive, but it can also be problematic mainly if our thought process is negative or harmful.  Today's blog explores what is going on when we experience a negative thought in our brains and how this can cause us massive issues with conflict.

Our brains are incredible and this, of course, is why we run the planet.  I know when we watch the news sometimes it doesn't feel like it, but we are incredible.  Our ability to create and seek answers to problems is phenomenal, and nothing else on our wonderful planet has this ability; this is why we run it.  There is a part of our brain called the Amygdala.  This part of our brain is so important to us; if we didn't have it we probably wouldn't be here, we would have been wiped many years ago.  The Amygdala controls a 3-state response; Fight, Flight and Freeze.  It is five times stronger than the logical problem-solving part of our brain, and when it kicks in the reaction of Fight, Flight or Freeze is very natural. Adrenalin is forced around our body; it is preparing our body for action to either fight or flight.

Psychologists call this part of our Brain the 'Chimp.' Remember there is nothing wrong with you if the chimp kicks in, it's just not very effective.  In conflict, it reacts, and the response can be very negative particularly in conflict situations. The chimp isn't smart it doesn't use logic.  

I have personal experience with this as when I was a young manager I found myself in many conflict situations, and I believed that being confrontational is the way to be.  Why did I think like that?  I had a paradigm that conditioned me to be like that.  Not very effective.

First and foremost with any conflict situation is to cage the chimp, staying calm.  You need to know that using the chimp isn't very effective, it can be hugely damaging.  I know that is easier sometimes said than done, but it is so essential with conflict.  There are some techniques we can use to cage the chimp and I am going to go through some that have changed my life on the next management blog.

Ralph Moody is the founder of Target Training and specialises in trainer and management development.  You can read more about him here.  To see courses where Ralph delivers see our website here. 

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