I’m sure you’ve noticed it too.
More than half a year of living our lives in a different way has changed how people are reacting and relating to each other. And it’s not all good.
Almost every coaching conversation I’ve had in the past couple of months has referred to increased levels of conflict, and even aggression, in everyday interactions. Shortened tempers, inability to gain perspective, assigning too much importance to insignificant stuff – these are all classic signs of a lack of emotional balance and regulation.
Here’s the thing: none of us are immune from this. Bad behaviour isn’t inevitable but when we reduce the level of positive stimuli in our environment, this can result in an atmosphere that tends towards the negative.
If it’s not immediately obvious yet in your personal circle, just have a look at how people are interacting online and on social media platforms (pro tip: not for too long!). We were on a longer-term arc of anger pre-Covid but this has now moved up a level or two.
So, how do we combat it?
Most of the solution is in awareness and acceptance. This is the environment we are in. We’re human, prone to these tendencies. We will cope better when we’re able to notice what’s happening and then choosing our response, rather than immediately engaging in an aggressive or defensive fashion.
And it’s useful to be proactive about this too. Some groups are starting video calls with a couple of minutes of mindful meditation, even if it’s just taking a few breaths. Some leaders are owning this and explaining that these tendencies are with us, helping us to de-escalate rather than digging in.
A deep breath is invariably better than a sharp bite.
This post was adapted from one of Aodan’s Sunday morning newsletters, eagerly anticipated by hundreds of readers. Give yourself the gift of that weekly wisdom by signing up here.