By Paul Yung

Happy May everyone! Time is flying, we’re almost at the halfway point for 2022!

I would like to wish everyone who celebrates a Selamat Hari Raya! Maaf Zahir dan Batin

During this celebration, I am reminded of the beautiful cultural diversity of Malaysia and how fortunate we are to immerse ourselves in different festivities (and food!)

As we balik kampung for Raya, some of us reunite with family and friends that we have not met for a long time. As wonderful as it is to finally meet in person, it’s normal that the hiatus would have strained our relationship and misunderstandings could occur. Whenever there is human interaction, there’s always the chance for friction.

“Why haven’t you called? I haven’t heard from you for so long, I thought you don’t care anymore” You get the gist.

How can we deal with these misunderstandings without spoiling the festivities?

This is how I deal with conflict resolution at work and at home

  1. Remain calm

In the eternal words of my wife, the first person who raises their voice, loses. Take a deep breath, stop speaking or drop the volume of your voice, and, if you must, remove yourself from the situation before you boil over. When you’re only seeing red, there’s no point in pushing your point across. You will only come across as overreacting or uncouth. Get yourself in a relaxed state and muster a smile. Smiling triggers release of endorphins which are a pain reliever and dopamine which is an anti-depressant.

  1. Separate Personal Emotions

Comments that hit a nerve are most probably caused by us taking personal offense. Whether you’re dealing with a conflict at home or at work, it’s important to take a step back and remove the personal emotions from the situation. Recently at an event we were holding, more than half of our participants got severe food poisoning and had to be hospitalized. It would have been easy for me to go bananas on the hotel staff and chef. Instead, I told them, “I’m sure you didn’t want this situation to happen. I want you to know that I am not upset at you, I am terribly embarrassed and flustered at the situation. Let’s deal with this after we’ve settled the victims”.

Don’t take personal offense and don’t make personal attacks. Distancing yourself from the attack removes its power over you.

  1. Label your feelings

Notice how I communicated that I was embarrassed and flustered?

When we are not in an emotionally stable state, a useful tip is to label our feelings. Sure, we are pissed off and frustrated. Now try narrowing down those feelings and labelling them. Research has shown that labelling your emotions instantly reduces physiological distress and anxiety. Labelling emotions brings clarity and helps us become self-aware of the root cause for the adverse reaction. Perhaps it’s not this situation that’s upsetting us, it could be an unresolved past issue that continues to haunt us. If that’s the case, then other methods of resolution like Timeline Therapy will help.

  1. Look at the situation objectively

Think, what is this person trying to achieve from these statements? Maybe when she said you haven’t called, and you don’t care. What she means is, she missed you and she’s hurt that she was forgotten. Cliché as it sounds, putting yourself in the other person’s shoes will help you understand the situation from their point of view.

  1. Drop your ego

Finally, recognize that your ego is not your amigo. Everyone is there for a good time, and even though someone passed a comment that hurt you, it helps if you could be the bigger person. Laugh it off and let it pass. Future you will thank you from engaging in an unnecessary argument and wasting your time and energy. It’s not worth it.

Conflicts and misunderstandings will occur whenever there’s human interaction. That’s perfectly normal. Learning to emotionally distant ourselves will make us a better leader, friend, and party guest. Safe travels and Selamat Hari Raya!