Trauma Responses in Conflict, Fight, Flight, Freeze, and Fawn. When we observe the fight trauma response during conflicts, we witness confrontation, rage, and intense, angry behaviors. The flight response manifests as anxiety, panic, and avoidance, accompanied by heightened energy. The freeze response appears as dissociation, with individuals not fully understanding questions, frequently asking for repetition, and responding with “I don’t know” or shrugging shoulders. They may speak emotionlessly, with low energy and a slow pace. The fawn response involves individuals deferring to others’ needs, trying to appease perceived threats, engaging in people-pleasing, and displaying co-dependency. They might attempt to triangulate the mediator overtly or covertly and struggle with setting boundaries.
Self Awareness and Reflection as the Mediator. As the mediator, I am not exempt from these trauma responses. I am human and have not come through life unscathed. It is crucial for me to be fully aware of my own reactions and how I manage them when triggered. The most effective way to identify, acknowledge, and manage these triggers and trauma responses is when we are calm and not in conflict. In moments of conflict, our rational mind tends to go offline, and we struggle to access the logical part of our brain to manage the response. This leads to stuttering in response to a question/query, dissociation, angry outbursts, or agreeing to whatever is said to “keep the peace”
Ensuring Self-Determination. In my work with parties, I support each individual along with myself to understand the responses inherited from childhood. From this step and in full awareness and knowledge we help build responses that allow for informed consentual choices in conflictual situations. Mediation is meant to be self-determining, but there are instances where our trauma responses hinder our ability to self-determine due to being offline. In such cases, we must slow down the process.
For conscious and self-determined conflict resolution, you can contact Sharon Morrissey at Conflict Clarity via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at +353 87 695 9 346. Learn more at www.conflictclarity.ie.