Transforming Church Team Blog
resourcing leaders…reenvisioning the future

Conflict Basics: part 2 of 3

03102634411Red Zone
So let’s get several terms straight up front. The Red Zone is where the atmosphere is characterized by a lack of professionalism and emotional heat. We’re not talking about conflict that has no emotion. That’s absurd. But emotion is in the service of the intellect, because the primary source of the conflict is not emerging from my personal story, but from the mission of the organization.
Have a look at this chart below, which should begin to detail the Red Zone where the conflict now revolves around me, my story, my neediness, my personal issues.  Take the time to carefully consider how this may represent your experience with conflict.

Red Zone
• This conflict is personal.
• It’s about me!
• Emotions rule without being acknowledged.
• I must protect myself , because I’m feeling weak.
• Emotions are denied in self, therefore “projected” on others.
• The situation escalates.
• Behaviors:
 I disengage
 I become easily annoyed
 I’m resentful
 I procrastinate
 I attack the other personally
 I use Alcohol as medication
 I avoid people , situations • This conflict is professional.
• It’s about the business.
• The mission of the organization rules.
• I must protect the team and the business.
• Emotions are understood and acknowledged in myself.
• The situation is reframed into a more useful construct.
• Behaviors:
 Thoughtful
 Reflective
 Listen deeply for what the underlying issue might be
 Do not see negative intent in other person.

As I sink into the Red Zone, my personal story begins to emerge. That story has a central theme or premise that is central to that story: Will I survive? Am I acceptable? Am I competent? Am I in control? As a person begins to sink into her Red Zone, it is usually the same core theme that emerges. Consequently, you will hear out of the mouth of a person the same general theme over and over again. You’re trying to control me! (control) Don’t you think I can do this? (competence). This Red Zone theme can color every interaction unless a person becomes aware of this and is able to manage it appropriate.

Red Zone Themes

Red Zone Issue Self-Description Positive Side Negative Side
Survival “I must take care of myself. The world is full of peril, so I must enjoy the moment.”
These people have traits of competence, self-reliance, and responsibility
These people lack the ability to trust others and tend to be wary and troubled in relationships. They have little interest in anything but what is of practical benefit. They become angry and panicky (Red Zone) whenever they feel their survival has been threatened.

Acceptance “I will do anything to be loved and accepted by others. I am a people-pleaser.”
These people have a heart for serving others and are very attentive to the needs and feelings of other people. These people are overly compliant and self-effacing. They tend to be rescuers. They become angry and carry personal grudges (Red Zone) whenever they feel they have been rejected.
Control “The world is a threatening place, and the only way I can feel safe is if I can control every situation and the people around me.” These people tend to be have strong leadership qualities. They are vigilant, highly organized, and have high expectations of themselves. These people often wall themselves off emotionally. They do not let others get too close to them. They can be overly controlling toward others—bossy, directive, demanding, rigid, and nit-picking. They impose perfectionist demands on others. They become anxious and angry (Red Zone) whenever anyone or anything threatens their control.
Competence “I am loved only on the basis of my performance. My performance is never good enough, so I never feel worthy of being loved.” These people tend to be high achievers. If you are a leader, you want these people on your team, because they will work hard to achieve a great performance. They are never satisfied with their achievements. They have a hard time receiving from other people. They impose perfectionist demands on themselves. They are defensive and easily angered (Red Zone) whenever they perceive that their competence has been questioned.

As the Red Zone core theme is activated, the feelings associated with that issue are also activated. The person then sinks down deeper into a morass of feelings, many of which come from stories long ago completely unrelated to the current story that has provoked the Red Zone response.

There is a different way and an opportunity to engage others in healthy conflict resulting in success.


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