Do you sometimes feel you’re in the middle of a tug of war? Whether it’s your spouse and your views being different; two of your children, your parents or siblings arguing; or people at the office, this can really be a stressful time!
Do you take “sides” when this happens automatically because of whose involved? Listen to both sides and jump in? Play referee? Or try not to get involved at all?
When dealing with relationships, no matter what they are, we all have our “go to” action. What’s yours? I was in the middle of a workshop as a participant and we were working on how we interact in a relationship. My group had only 3 people. As we were discussing things, we couldn’t get anywhere on reaching a consensus and one of the facilitators came over. They saw from a third person perspective what we couldn’t; one person was on the offensive, one on the defensive and I just held space, keeping quiet, listening and saying things occasionally to calm the waters. When the facilitator called us on how we were reacting, we all agreed that this was our “go to” way of handling tug of wars and conflicts. Mine makes perfect sense as a coach, but doesn’t always work in real life.
So take a moment and look at how you react and if it’s working for you. Do you like the way you deal with being in the middle of two people on opposite sides of an issue or want or desire? Or do you get stressed out; jump in and get upset, step away to give them space and work it out for themselves, or run for the hills screaming in fear? (just kidding, but you know what I mean)
Whichever way you choose to do it normally, if it really doesn’t work for you, try one of the other options the next time a tug of war situation comes up. Surprise everyone. Maybe they’re used to you acting the peacemaker and getting in the middle. In that case perhaps the next time your siblings (or whoever) get in an argument or take opposite sides of an issue, you step back and say – you’re adults, I’m sure you’ll figure it out…or something totally different. It may or may not work, but just the fact you don’t play your regular “role” may change the whole dynamic of the situation.
And if the first time you try one way and it doesn’t work, try another. Maybe you usually back away and you decide to step in and either have your voice heard, or tell them to knock it off. Different situations and people – family vs. work dynamics; children vs. adults, etc., probably require different reactions and will equate to different results, but keep experimenting until you find something that works for you.
Ultimately, in a tug of war situation it’s hard for everyone to feel like they’ve won, but sometimes it is just possible, and at the very least, you’ll feel better and more empowered if you find what works best for you and speak your truth.