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Want to change the other person? Change your own actions first.

If you want the other side to behave differently, be it in a professional or personal context, know that the only person you can change is you.

By influencing your own thoughts, emotions, and actions, you will receive different -- even more ideal -- reactions from the other side. Here are a few strategies to get you started:

  1. Check your own stories about the other person or the situation. Most conflicts arise from the unspoken expectations we have from the stories we tell ourselves about people and things. This phenomenon can be attributed to our brain's natural inclination to fill in gaps of information based on past experiences and biases. The brain is wired to create coherent narratives, and sometimes these stories can distort our perceptions of reality. By recognizing this tendency, you can consciously challenge and reframe your internal narratives to align with a more accurate view of the situation.

  2. Determine what outcome you'd like to achieve. The brain is wired to seek goals and rewards, often releasing dopamine when we achieve them. By setting a clear outcome for the conflict resolution process, you're tapping into the brain's reward system, which can help motivate you to approach the situation with a constructive mindset. Visualizing a positive outcome can trigger the brain's simulation mechanisms, making it easier to navigate the conflict from a proactive and solution-oriented perspective.

  3. Review where your automatic responses didn't serve you this time around. Neuroscientific research has shown that when we're faced with perceived threats, the amygdala, a part of the brain responsible for processing emotions, can override the prefrontal cortex, which handles rational decision-making. This leads to the fight-or-flight response and can result in impulsive reactions. By recognizing this automatic response mechanism, you can introduce mindfulness practices that allow you to pause and engage the prefrontal cortex before reacting. This cognitive control can help you choose more balanced and effective responses during conflicts.

By integrating brain science into these strategies, you can gain a deeper insight into the underlying processes that influence your behavior during conflicts. Understanding how the brain functions in these situations empowers you to take charge of your responses, rewire unhelpful patterns, and engage in more constructive interactions.

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