In a physical emergency, triage is the best way to address issues.
Originating during the Napoleonic Wars, triage divides wounded people into three categories:
- Those who are likely to live, regardless of what care they receive;
- Those who are likely to die, regardless of what care they receive;
- Those for whom immediate care might make a positive difference in outcome.
In a conflict, confrontation or difficulty, people often have no trouble dividing their approaches to relationships in the exact same manner:
- Those situations that are not likely to become conflicts, no matter what I do;
- Those situations that are likely to become conflicts, no matter what I do;
- Those situations that are likely to have a positive outcome if I address them as best I can right now.
Many people in their individual lives triage situations, relationships and other people, and mistakenly believe that they are acting with the best interests of other people in mind, and that they are acting within the bounds of emotional intelligence.
When asked, they will swear up and down that they are good at reading other people and examining what conflicts to engage in, what conflicts to avoid, and what conflicts to be neutral about.
Unfortunately, true emotional intelligence takes years of self-examination to master. Somewhere around 10,000 hours. The true test of developing emotional intelligence is moving the inner space from concerns about self (“I triage this situation with these people really well!”) to concerns about self and the other person (“How are we going to triage this situation together?”).
Some people like conflict, confrontation and the feeling of powerfulness that such ability to trigger a conflict or confrontation in others’ produces.
Some people don’t like conflict and will run away at the first hint of even a little difficulty.
Some people are neutral on all of this and genuinely have the ability to triage effectively.
However, in the complex business and social worlds that we inhabit (with complexity increasing rather than decreasing every day); people can rarely afford to avoid, attack or remain neutral when the opportunity for greater, deeper and more meaningful engagement presents itself.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org