Solving The Relationship Conflict Puzzle!

What is conflict?

  • Is it about a disagreement or escalation of anger and disappointment with someone else?
  • Does it exist if the other person doesn’t know you feel in conflict about an exchange with them?
  • Is it possible that your ability to resolve conflict within yourself is related to how well you resolve conflict with others?

Conflict, regardless of who’s involved, relates to the emotions that present as internal discomfort, frustration, anger, negative self-talk and if not resolved, anxiety.

When we learn how to identify and label our own conflicting thoughts and feelings about things, we can learn specific techniques to resolve conflict with others. Without the prior (and sometimes simultaneous) ability to understand and work through conflicting thoughts and feelings, we are limited in our ability to resolve conflict with others. This is largely because we operate only from a cognitive or ‘thinking’ perspective, when the emotions underlying conflict are the ones that stop us seeing the whole picture.

Insights from Neuro-science

Neuro-science shines an important light on understanding what happens in the brain when we experience internal and interpersonal conflict.

When I interviewed Andrew Mowat (co-author of The Success Zone: 5 Powerful Steps To Growing Yourself And Leading Others), he shared an older model of brain function that is broadly accepted although it may not be 100% correct. He explained that the brain is made up of three layers:

  1. Reptilian brain at the back
  2. Mammalian brain – the mid layer where our emotions sit
  3. Cortical brain which sits on top (modern human thinking brain)


If a teacher (or any communicator) says something to offend someone, it shifts the blood flow in the brain to a more primitive part – the reptilian or mammalian brain. The hearer becomes far less self-aware, more self-focused and less interested in the things about them, and not about others. This is called the Red Zone.

However, when someone listens carefully and takes notice of the other person; when they show generosity or vulnerability in the conversation, they trigger the area behind the forehead – the mammalian brain (Blue Zone)

The teachers, leaders, friends and gurus 
we find inspirational are those who were not only operating from a blue zone mindset – they engender this state in us, because mindsets are highly contagious. The blue zone is the home of engagement. A person who is in the blue zone is very highly engaging to other people. People who are in the red zone are very disengaging.

This explains something about the conditions of conflict and how to reduce them – not only using strategic negotiating skills but by doing everything we can to stay in the blue zone, because mindsets are highly contagious.

Brain science now confirms that a person’s charm is linked with their ability
 to ‘engage’ other people because they are operating from a blue zone mindset. This is a learnt behaviour, and by doing certain things, we can trigger a blue mindset and increase our capacity to engage other people.

Importance of exquisite communication

Two key communication skills that trigger a blue mindset are:

  1. Listening in a particular way.
  2. Language skills based around questioning.


Because these occur when we are in a blue zone mindset, when we communicate we become highly engaging and communicate with impact, and engender a blue zone mindset in others, which further enhances communication. When we learn to use these skills and combine them with specific strategies to navigate difficult conversations, our communication and relationships improve dramatically.

Combining powerful communication strategies together with an understanding of brain function and blood flow, we can learn to effectively overcome conflict and work towards resolution and more harmonious relationships.

This I believe is the missing piece in the ‘relationship conflict’ puzzle.
JOIN me for our free communication skills webinars and learn specific tools and techniques to get better results in your business and relationships. Leave each webinar with 3-5 specific techniques you can use right away.

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