The idea of confrontation terrifies most people. Their heart starts pumping and all they can hear is the sound of blood rushing through their ears. They try to remember the reasons they came to face the challenge of telling people what they do not want to hear. Emotions take over and some either want to leave or throw the first punch. These fight or flight tendencies will get us nowhere.
Walter Bradford Cannon, an American Physiologist from Harvard Medical School, coined the term ‘fight or flight response’. He originally intended for it to describe the response animals have when faced with danger, but he began to see the implications this ideal had in the human world as well. Humans and animals have much in common in this aspect.
Women and men, however, differ in their responses. Men have a higher chance of responding in an emergence situation with aggression. They will most likely turn and fight, where as women will choose one of three options: flee, turn to others for help, or attempt to talk it out.
While this is the status quo for people to respond in line with the appropriate gender’s reaction, I often wonder if it hasn’t always been this way. I know that by nature men have been the ‘providers’ while women have been the ‘nurturers’. Yet, I wonder if we have been thrust even further into this role by the media.
Media makes the idea of a disagreement happening scary -in an extreme situation- we are either going to end up in a bar fight or a lonely, emotional mess. You can easily guess which will happen to the man versus the woman; men usually are not the criers in a movie if that gives you a hint. Yet in real world none of this is really an option. Confrontations do not have to be a fear to run from. Media combined with our own worries has built these moments up to be more than they really are.
I feel as though, some days, I have entered the wild jungles of the Amazon when it comes to communicating with people around me. We are more likely to hiss and yelp phrases at each other, in an attempt to save ourselves, than we are to sit down and have a civil conversation.
Reality is that if we are to all co-exist in this world there is going to be many disagreements. Whether that makes or breaks a relationship is for the individuals to decide. There are ways to retrain ourselves out of the fight or flight instinct, that does nothing but harm a good relationship.
It takes a practiced arm to aim and shoot a gun. Just as much effort has to be put into learning the steps to getting to the bottom of a confrontation and finding a mutually agreed upon solution. Granted this is never easy nor is it ever fun, but in the end if the friendship is valuable enough to be saved than you’ll do the right thing.
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