If you feel more agitated than usual when the temperatures rise, rest assured, most likely there’s nothing wrong with you. It is normal to feel uncomfortable and cranky when we become overheated. There is a reason the English language is loaded with idioms such as “hot and bothered,” “boiling over,” “hot-tempered” or “crash and burn.” (Read on, this article is loaded with them.) In fact, studies have demonstrated higher temperatures are accompanied by higher rates of aggression, violent crimes and global conflicts.
Family reunions and neighborhood barbecues are meant to be fun gatherings. The combination of crowds, heat and frenetic planning, however, can also be stressful. Tensions can erupt into conflict. As we often point out in our articles, nobody really loves conflict. That being said, those of us in the conflict management field will tell you avoidance isn’t usually the best approach. People dodge conflict when they don’t have the skills to effectively engage. Boundary-setting is one of those skills. In fact, setting boundaries can actually improve relationships.
A client recently asked me for some strategies to engage in conflict without appearing angry. As I’ve said in previous articles, it’s no secret that most people fear conflict and will go to great lengths to avoid it. Managing our anger can be challenging at times. Most people either become defensive or worse, they’re boiling internally while trying to appear calm. Skilled mediators develop practical strategies to avoid being pulled into the emotional whirlpool of our clients’ conflicts.