Hannah Hutchinson


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CONFLICT RESOLUTION 101 | Hannah Hutchinson, founder of Your Conflict Coach and local conflict and relationship expert, guides us through 3 proven strategies for reducing the amount of damaging conflict in our everyday relationships.

The first thing I tell my clients is that we cannot change other people’s behavior— we can only change what we do in conflict, and how we respond to the way other people choose to behave. As difficult as that can be, there ARE things we can do to reduce conflict in our life, without trying to change what other people are doing!

Secret #1: Figure out your conflict style

Everyone has an “automatic” response to conflict that is a result of their life experiences, role models, and behavioral tendencies. Most people fall into one of these 4 categories:

Knowing what your instinctual conflict style is can help you understand more about why you react the way you do in conflict situations, which can prevent emotional spiraling! 

Once we understand this about ourselves, we can try to shift our approach to an important, fifth style: Collaborative. A collaborative approach requires everyone to work together to create a NEW solution that solves all of the ROOT issues. By resolving root problems and making sure everyone feels heard and satisfied, we eliminate the smaller issues that tend to distract us in the other styles, like power imbalances and metaphorical subtext. 

This is not an easy shift to make, and it’s important to be intentional about the behaviors we choose when emotions are heightened, which leads me to my second secret…

Secret #2: Discover your triggers 

To understand triggers, it’s important to understand why they happen. In our brains, the processes and systems that happen when we feel emotion completely shut down the processes and systems that we need to use logic. This means that logic and emotion cannot happen in our brains at the same time. This is true regardless of where you are on the neurotypical-divergent spectrum, however, the ability to control this takeover can be significantly more difficult for neurodivergent people.

This is why, for anyone, it’s important to discover your triggers, and become predictable to yourself. If we learn what things are most likely to take over our brain with emotion, then it becomes a lot easier for us to control our reactions… Because we saw it coming! When we prepare our logical mentality ahead of time, we are more able to bring that forward and override the emotional surge, preventing reactive outbursts. 

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So, if we know our conflict style and we know our triggers, how do these things play into real life relationships where there is repeat conflict? I’m glad you asked…

Secret #3: Establish conflict-specific boundaries 

Boundaries are trending right now, and that’s awesome! But they can be difficult to implement once a conflict has escalated or has been previously established. This is why creating boundaries specific to those conflicts is a very important part of reducing damage to the relationship. 

Also, many people think that boundaries involve changing the behavior of other people, but as I’ve said, we can only control ourselves. Boundaries are not a threat. Boundaries are about what YOU do, not controlling what others do. 

Let’s say one of your friends is using language that offends you or hurts your feelings. How do we set a boundary that reduces conflict? 

NOT a boundary: “I need you to stop saying that.”

Also NOT a boundary: “It makes me mad when you say that.”

Still NOT a boundary: “If you say that, I’ll stop hanging out with you.”

IS a boundary: “I get uncomfortable when I hear those words, so I may withdraw if I feel that way, so I can protect myself.”

There are no accusations in a boundary. There is no loaded language in a boundary. It’s simply a declaration of how you will handle a potential conflict. And here’s a bonus secret: the way others react to your boundaries is a choice THEY make, not a representation of your needs. 

Conflict is inevitable, but hating it doesn’t have to be. Fearing it doesn’t have to be. Dreading it doesn’t have to be. Avoiding it doesn’t have to be. I hope these secrets provide a small stepping stone for you to reduce relational conflict in your life! 

Love always,

Hannah, Your Conflict Coach :)

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Hannah Hutchinson, M.A. | Founder, Coach, Podcast Host

ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Hannah is a local communication expert and conflict coach, helping people develop conflict resolution skills, emotional intelligence, and relationship competency, so we can all live happier, more peaceful lives with those we love AND those we tolerate. She’s passionate about making this information accessible to everyone, so you can find more tips and tricks on her social media, and she hosts a podcast called “Secrets of a Conflict Coach”! By contributing to NWAGG, she hopes to reach more beautiful souls & spread the art of peaceful living to more people who crave it!

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