In a conflict or confrontation, it turns out that the right brain doesn’t know what the left brain is doing.
The right brain, which controls creativity and negative emotions, reacts in a conflict to protect the rest of the brain by shifting to quick action and focusing on the conflict at hand.
The left brain, which controls rationality and solution storing for problems, reacts in conflict by shutting up, sitting down and taking notes for further review later.
Adrenal glands release cortisol during stress and epinephrine (commonly known as adrenaline) during difficulty.
These glandular chemicals, along with norepinephrine, allow us to create new memories in concert with the sympathetic nervous system.
The left brain records the memories while the right brain battles it out. Kind of sounds like the way wars are fought, as the generals sit at the rear while the front rank charges.
How do you respond to someone in this state?
- Disengage—don’t use logic with the person. It won’t work.
- Listen and be empathetic—but don’t “buy-in” to everything that the other person is experiencing.
- Then focus on the rational piece—but don’t expect much help initially. The other person is still lit up.
Now, because the other person is still operating in right brain mode, they will make judgments about you, your behavior, your responses to them and the situation. And if you do the wrong thing, or confront them, those judgments become hard to break later on.
[Thanks to Bill Eddy and others] for giving me the ideas for this blog post.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: email@example.com