A story about a conflict between two people is a snapshot in time. But there is also a story about the hours that led up to the conflict episode.  The hours before a crisis situation can be a crucial key to understanding behavior.

A lack of sleep or not eating right can cause a person to feel uncomfortable or cranky. That person has a higher chance of getting in conflict than any other person who did get a full night sleep or had a good breakfast.

If you had a dispute with someone because they were rude to you, it may have nothing to do with you. An understanding and the explanations of negative behavior are a golden rule in conflict resolution. The other person may have just been uncomfortable or cranky and you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. When trying to figure out why you are suddenly not talking to someone, consider these reflective questions.

-       What happened in the hours prior to this conflict situation?

-       Do you know anything about what was going on in their life before your negative interaction with them?

-       Who or what is influencing the person with whom you are in conflict?

-       Is there a new situation in the other person’s life that is making them uncomfortable or unhappy?

-       Is there a divorce looming?

-       Is there a new baby in the house that is not sleeping?

-       Did the person start a new diet and is hungry?

-       Does that person have any health issues?

-       Is that person a new empty nester who is feeling sad because their child just left for college?

There is never an excuse for rudeness or unnecessary conflict. However, non-aggressive, effective, conflict resolution communication skills can be learned and practiced. Gail Shapiro, Ph.D. is a conflict coach who teaches simple communication skills that can nurture relationships in uncomfortable situations.