Stop the health-eroding
effects of fighting
and improve your
By Chrystle Fiedler
When you experience conflict, with your
boss, co-worker or spouse, you probably feel
angry and frustrated. But it’s not just emotional turmoil. Physiological changes are happening inside your body too.
To ramp up for battle, your body goes
into fight-or-flight mode, a primitive, automatic survival response.
“The main culprit is adrenaline,” says
Andra Medea, author of Conflict Unraveled:
Fixing Problems at Work and in Families
(PivotPoint Press, 2005). “your body cannot
distinguish from being yelled at by a boss or
being snarled at by a tiger.”
When the flood of adrenaline hits, your
breathing becomes more rapid, your heart
rate speeds up, your immune system gears up
and your brain starts to malfunction, so
you’re operating with a survival brain instead
of a reasoning brain. When you fight repeat-
edly and this response is triggered over and
over again, your health suffers.
avoidance of conflict a huge predictor of
divorce, but it also puts women at four times
the risk of heart disease. “If you give in to
your partner, he or she is happy, but you are
in emotional turmoil,” says Puhn.
The healthy option is to assertively
express your point of view. Learning how to
fight the right way will also improve your per-
sonal and professional relationships. “Conflict
is not only inevitable, it’s good,” says Puhn. “It
means that two people have different perspec-
tives. When you learn the verbal skills for a
fight, the relationship will grow.”
The amazing thing is that conflict resolu-
tion takes only a few minutes in most cases.
This drastically reduces the impact of con-
flict on your health. here are four steps to
fighting fairly at home and at work.
december 2010 The Costco Connection 57
1. Sit down. Sitting down puts your
logical mind back in control, says Puhn.