Time Out From Conflict

Could a “Time Out” Help Resolve the Conflict?

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. – Mohandas K. Gandhi

TimeOutFromConflict-HCJoeRaymondIn my last article I gave you 6 Steps for Problem Solving, and I have also talked about the importance of Problem Solving. In this article we’ll continue the discussion on conflict by talking about taking a time out from the conflict.

When conflict arises, sometimes we just need a “time out” – but the time out I will describe probably differs from the one to which you are accustomed.

One day I was watching two of my grandchildren, ages four and six, while my wife and daughter were out shopping. As children that age often do, they we in each other’s face, arguing and bickering about just about everything: “He took my toy.” “She is in my space.” “She is touching me.” “He is bothering me.”

Feeling somewhat stressed about the situation, I told them “Grandpa is getting stressed and needs to take a time out. Will you two please sit on the coach while Grandpa sits in the chair and takes a time out?” They both sat quietly on the couch while Grandpa sat in his chair for about 20 minutes and we all had some nice relaxing quiet time. I then said to them, “Grandpa has had a long enough time out. Will you kids please be nice to each other so that Grandpa does not get stressed and need another time out?” They agreed and were very good the rest of the time.

When my wife and daughter returned, they both ran to their mother and said, “Guess what Mommy! Grandpa put himself in time out!”

What is a time out?

A time out is a process that allows you to step back, think about what needs to happen and then return and take care of the situation. It is like a mini vacation that allows you to refresh and then return to make good decisions about what needs to happen. Sometimes we think of a time out as something parents impose on misbehaving children. However, an effective time out for you as an adult is not something that others put you into or that you put someone else into as a punishment. I recommend it is something that you take to center yourself.

When and why would you need to take a time out?

TimeOutFromAnger-HCJoeRaymondYou may need a time out for any of the following reasons:

  • You are being pressured for a decision and need some time to think about it.
  • You are getting angry about something and need to cool down.
  • You are feeling threatened by someone else’s anger and need space for your safety.
  • You just need some rest and quiet, time to replenish your energy.

A time out gives you time to think through the situation.

You need to recognize and pay attention to the red warning flags that say you need to take a time out. Everyone has his or her own set of red flags, but most people experience at least some of the following:

  • Negative thought patterns
  • Difficult feelings
  • Body cues (for example, headache, racing heart, breathlessness, dry mouth)
  • Self-defeating actions (for example, turning to addictive behaviors to distract from or numb the feelings of anxiety)

Sometimes our efforts to change may provoke negative reactions in people with whom we have relationships. If we are in a relationship with someone who is prone to anger and violence, our first priority will be to stay safe, which I’ll talk more about in my next article.

This is an excerpt from my book “Embracing Change From the Inside Out”

If you’re ready to make life changes from the inside out contact me, I will help you understand how to make those changes.

You can also contact me to speak at your next event, I will adjust my topic to the needs of your audience.


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