When you find yourself caught in the middle of somebody else’s conflict, it can be tricky to navigate a way out. I have found a simple phrase you can use to avoid conflict—and prevent hurt feelings.
I was driving my girlfriend to the airport the other morning when she asked me this question:
“What can I say if the two of them start in with each other?”
I knew she was referring to the situation with her siblings, who often have conflict between themselves that can become ugly at times.
She once was the person who got trapped in the middle of those conflicts.
They would call her separately, with each sibling telling her how bad the other one was and making a case for their anger and behavior.
I’d already helped her with that one! I had her say to each of them:
“That is between you two. I’m not going to get in the middle of it.”
It’s a nice, loving way to set a boundary, so you don’t get pulled into situations like these. My girlfriend was now able to avoid getting sucked into those conflicts.
So what did I tell her when she asked me this question in the car? I told her to simply say:
“This Is Not the Time.”
Again, it’s a way of setting a limit WITHOUT (1) invalidating a person’s feelings, and (2) telling them what they should be doing.
I encouraged her to practice saying those words before she had to use them! This it makes it easier for them to come out when you need them.
Another reason I think this works is because, in a way, we are not telling people “NO,” we are just telling them to hold off for now.
Quick note: You may need to repeat this phrase several times, so don’t get frustrated and give up if no one listens to you the first time.
Do you have other techniques or phrases you use to avoid conflicts? Share them with us in the comment box below!
~To Living Well TODAY!~
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