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Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Gifted and Yellow

I admit it, I'm a big coward. I hate conflict with a passion, I get overwhelmed easily despite all my efforts to remain calm. I've been working on this for years and I'm starting to understand that it is part of who I am as a gifted adult.

I am so sensitive that when emotional "stuff" is flying around I catch all of it and my instinct is to deal with the emotion first. I know I don't think best when I'm getting multiple emotional pings, so I try to ameliorate the atmosphere before I get into rational argument. This generally makes people think I am avoiding the discussion altogether, which makes them even more emotional. If I don't throw out a few ill-thought statements to keep the whole thing going, I'll probably just walk away in tears.

As you can imagine this gets complicated very quickly, and makes it difficult to have a cogent argument about anything. If I'm going to engage, I generally pick a time and place when I know I will be less likely to lose it (familiar, comfortable surroundings, not hungry, not tired) and start stating my case. I also let people know that I am quite likely to start crying during the exchange; if I don't they can think I'm trying to get one over on them by turning on the waterworks. But actually, it's just a way for me to release some of the stress that inevitably comes up. Not great for my image as a top businesswoman, but at least it keeps me in the same room.

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IMHO, the ability to deal with conflict is really more of an age and maturity issue than a gifted one. The qualifier is, as you well know, gifted people tend to be very, very sensitive, which makes dealing with conflict even more of a challenge.

When I was in my 20's, I also was prone to bursting into unwanted tears at moments of conflict. It was very annoying for everyone concerned...especially me, as I found it hideously embarassing and it showed a crack in my otherwise confidant facade. This tendency lessened as I grew older, wiser and more confident. You are already well on the road to handling things. It is often better to avoid a head on collision of emotion and opinion. Time is a great leveller and a sober second thought by all parties usually diffuses the situation.

Now well into my fifth decade, I pick and choose my battles. Very few situations are really worth an aggressive or emotional response. I always ask, "Will this matter six months from now?" Usually, the answer is no.

Avoiding conflict too frequently can be seen as having a passive aggresive quality, even arrogant quality, and you want to avoid that.

Let time and experience do it's thing and ask yourself that six months question. It works for me (of course, if you don't agree, we could always fight about it ;-)
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