top of page
  • Writer's pictureThrive Inc.

The Beauty of Conflict Tools: Handling Stressful Moments

Do you want to deal with stress effectively but don’t know how to do so? Do you find yourself clamming up or getting defensive in stressful situations? So many of us deal with stress knowing that our techniques are ineffective, yet we still do them! It’s time to change that, and it’s easier than you think!

This week, we’ll be sharing some easy to use tools to help you respond differently in stressful circumstances. These simple tools can be used in public, so you can keep them with you and ready to bring out at all times. Imagine how confident you’ll feel when you manage your reactions calmly and clearly!

Tune in as we discuss our own experiences of using these tools and discuss the science behind why they’re so effective. We’ll show you how to break unproductive patterns that are holding you back. You can start using these tools right now, and the more you practice, the more helpful they’ll be. Result!

Do you want to be more effective in stressful situations? Do you want to stop letting self-doubt hold you back from more opportunities? Do you want to break unproductive patterns that you know are holding you back? We coach people like you every day! Reach out to either of us – we’d love to help you thrive!

If you enjoyed the show, please share the podcast with your family and friends, or post a five-star review on iTunes. Rating and reviewing the show helps spread the word, which means less friction and suffering for everyone, and who doesn’t want that?

Learn More:

  • How to use these tools to prepare for and recover from stressful meetings.

  • The scientific reasons these tools eliminate stress.

  • Why practicing these tools makes them more effective in combating stress.

  • How to change ineffective behaviors.

  • Why these tools are intuitive.


Full Transcript:

CrisMarie: Welcome to The Beauty of Conflict, a podcast about how to deal with conflict at work, at home and everywhere else in your life. Hi, I'm CrisMarie.

Susan: And I'm Susan. We run a company called Thrive, and we specialize in conflict resolution, communication and building strong, thriving teams and relationships. Conflict shows up in our lives in so many ways. Most people, unfortunately, are not very good at handling conflict. Most people have never been taught the right tools for dealing with conflict, and then it leads to unnecessary friction, arguments, passive aggressive emails, tears, hurtful comments, stuck-ness, all kinds of things we don't want. We're on a mission to change all of that.

CrisMarie: We've spent the last 20 years teaching our clients how to handle conflict in a whole new way. We're here to show you that conflict doesn't have to be scary and overwhelming. With the right tools, you can turn a moment of conflict into a moment of reinvention. Conflict can pave the way into a beautiful new system at work, a new way of leading your team, a new way of parenting, a new chapter of your marriage where you feel more connected than ever before. Conflict can lead to beautiful things.

Today we’re going to give you some tools that you can use right in the middle of a meeting when you are stressed out. You know those times when even on a virtual meeting, a co-worker snaps at you harshly in front of everyone else and you’re like, “Oh.” Or your boss completely disagrees with this well thought out point of view that you have.

Susan: Are you someone who may lash back, get defensive to protect yourself, give in and agree, go blank and stay silent? We all know that these are ineffective reactions, but we still fall prey to them. We’re going to give you an easy to use tool that you can use right in the middle of a meeting that will help you respond differently.

CrisMarie: We’re also going to give you a tool you can use either to prep before you’re going into a stressful meeting or recover from one. Imagine how free and confident you’ll feel in those situations when you can actually stay calm, think clearly and wind up being well spoken as opposed to getting defensive.

Susan: Or at least recover well, that’s often what I say.

CrisMarie: So first I’m going to tell you how I came to use these tools. I’m CrisMarie, if you don’t recognize my voice. And I’m an Olympic athlete, I was a rower at the University of Washington and then on the national and Olympic teams. And I started using these tools, I didn’t know that they were helpful, now I do; I’ve gone through lots of education.

But when we were getting ready for a race, so we’d all be – I was in the women’s eight, so we’d be at the start up of the race. And the boats are getting even; you have to wait a minute. And I would use this when I was sitting at the starting line against the Russians, the Chinese, the Germans. I needed to learn how to settle myself in an instant. And I did these tools intuitively. And I could give you so many tools. I could talk about the Polyvagal theory, but Susan said, “Don’t bore them with that.”

Susan: You could give a little bit, you’re okay, you can say something about the Polyvagal theory.

CrisMarie: So what the second largest nerve in the body, besides the spinal column is the vagus nerve. And there’s two branches, there is an upper branch that goes to your ear, nose and throat and your heart. And there’s also an ancient branch that goes all the way down to your lower organs and your guts and all that sort of stuff. And the reason that we feel better after we’ve talked to somebody is we’re using that upper vagal branch when we talk social engagement, we see and we feel better when we share what’s going on, the stress we’re feeling.

That lower branch can get turned on quickly and it turns off very slowly. So you need to actually actively work to get that to vibrate because it turns on your rest and digest. So you’ve heard of fight, flight and freeze, that’s your sympathetic system. That’s what happens when you’re stressed. And the rest and digest is the parasympathetic and that turns on your healing, it actually sends blood to your brain, it’s a really healthy branch we want to activate, but sometimes we can get stuck on.

Susan: I often think that athletes are so good at this. And you think when an athlete is getting ready to perform, like you’re about to do your race, you probably are in fight, flight and freeze. And you might think that’s a great performance enhancer, but really it’s not.

CrisMarie: Yeah. And there’s a certain level of it that’s good but then it gets too much. And so to balance that, you’re right, Susan, with these tools were really helpful and I didn’t even know that I was doing it. And I think a lot of people may find them intuitively, but it’s helpful to know, hey, there’s science behind this and they really work, especially if you feel silly doing them, which you’ll decide when we go through them.

Okay, so one of the things when you are in that stressful moment in the meeting is that your blood is draining from your brain, going to your limbs to fight, flight or freeze. Your vision gets narrow; you literally do not see or think of options that you could have. So one of the simplest tools to do in the meeting, even when you’re virtual in that little square is you want to actually stop and turn your head, take your focus off the square and turn your head, not just your eyes, your whole head slowly in one...

Susan: You may not want to do it right now.

CrisMarie: You’re right.

Susan: You’re moving away from the mic, so come back.

CrisMarie: Susan’s going to demo it even though you can’t see.

Susan: Okay, you can’t see me but I am doing it, go ahead.

CrisMarie: Turn your head slowly in one direction and just find an object in the room and just pause, take a beat and notice the shape, the color, how far away it is from you. And then turn your head in the opposite direction and find another object and pause, and just take in the shape, the color, how far away it is. Now what’s happening is we’re vibrating, we’re activating that vagus nerve and your system is slowing down, which good news, it’s sending blood to your brain. And it actually helps you see more options and respond differently.

Don’t believe your brain’s saying, “I don’t have time to do this, I’ve got to respond quickly, people are going to think I’m weird.” That’s your subconscious brain just lying to you, it’s saying, “No, no, you can’t do this, you need to have focus.” It’s coming from your fight, flight or freeze response.

Susan: Another one that I find really helpful and maybe this comes out of even all of this Covid, you know, the importance of hand washing. But then I learned that actually the same action activates that vagus nerve. And it’s easy for me to do, I know I often will play with my wedding ring, and I guess that’s a way, I didn’t even realize that that’s what I was doing. But now since I don’t want to lose that wedding ring, someone said, “Make sure, you know,” just wring my hands, and imagine that I’m doing hand washing.

CrisMarie: Yeah. Another one to do is just – and this is actually not the vagus nerve, you’re actually activating a different brain state is to just close your eyes and put your hand on your forehead, you can do this. It just looks, you know, The Thinker, Rodin’s Thinker. It just actually it activates a different brain state and you’ll come up with more options, that closing of the eyes. You can do that, yes, even on video meetings.

Susan: The last one that we’re going to talk about is feeling your feet, so wherever you’re sitting, especially if you’re on a Zoom meeting sitting up staring at it. You can put your feet on the ground, rub your feet on the ground, press your heels into the ground. Now, this is something I’ve done in person in meetings very easily too because it’s pretty simple to do. And also really consciously feel your seat in the support of the chair you’re on, put your energy and attention into that because that will actually help you drop into your body.

CrisMarie: All of these are bringing your energy down from your prefrontal cortex, activating more of your body and that brings more resource to your brain, it brings more breath, more blood, you’re going to have better responses. Now, there is one that you can do a couple of different ways, this is before you’re going into the meeting or after when you’ve just been like, whoa, it was too stressful.

Susan: You can do it in the meeting, but sometimes people notice, let’s just be clear.

CrisMarie: And, Susan does a version of this just naturally through humming.

Susan: Oh, I’ve always been a hummer. Used to hum when I played tennis, apparently, people would tell me, “You’re humming all the time.”

CrisMarie: So that’s an intuitive way, that you’re really using it as an athlete. We’re going to talk about a breath, and it’s called voo – v.o.o. And what you’re going to do is take a big inhale and a long exhale and you’re going to make a sound, voo is the sound. And you just make it as long as you can. And that is literally vibrating that vagus nerve, which you can do humming. We’re going to demo it so you can do it right now, so a big breath in and exhale and make the sound voo. We’re going to do it one more time, voo.

I should have had you notice before, what you were feeling before. But I can feel a difference in my own energy. You may even hear it in my voice. It’s deeper in my body, I’m more relaxed. So imagine if you do four of those to recover or right before, or even if you’re in the middle of an argument and you’re so upset with your spouse, or your kids, walk away, do some voos, and just see if you don’t come back more resourced.

Susan: And you can just mute that scream and do it right there, simple humming, but get those lips to vibrate a little bit. The only thing that someone will say is, “Your face looks a little tense.” That’s all. But if you are vooing, it may help you relax.

CrisMarie: And before you discount these, because they seem weird, experiment with them, try them in different scenarios, on that virtual meeting when you’re a Brady Bunch square. Do it when you’re in the middle of a discussion with your spouse, just try them out. It’s kind of like sports, the more you practice it the quicker it’s going to actually affect your system and be helpful. And the better you’re going to actually think about it in the middle of those moments.

Susan: Alright.

CrisMarie: Do you want to be more effective in stressful situations? Do you want to stop letting self-doubt hold you back from more opportunities? Do you want to break up unproductive patterns that you know are holding you back? I coach people like you every day.

Susan: And I coach people as well, so you could reach out to either one of us.

CrisMarie: I’m CrisMarie Campbell. I’m a leadership coach and a team consultant.

Susan: And I’m Susan Clarke, and I’m a Lighthouse leadership coach and an Equus coach.

CrisMarie: And we are the author of two books, and our work has been featured on NBC, Today Show and Shape Magazine. So you know, hey, we’re really good.

Susan: And the book’s following the podcast, The Beauty of Conflict for teams and for couples.

CrisMarie: Okay, have a good day and try these tools.

If you want to learn more about what we discussed today, or how to deal with conflict more effectively, Susan and myself, CrisMarie are both available for individual one-on-one coaching. We also offer couples coaching, which now as we live and work 24/7 together, may be more important than ever.

Susan: We continue to do our team facilitation, both live and now virtually. Let’s get real, until you’ve had a tough conversation over Zoom, you may not be building the trust you need on your team. For the next couple of months we are offering free virtual trainings to organizations. Our goal is to support you, your team and your business, both at work and at home during this pandemic.

CrisMarie: Right now you can find short videos on my, CrisMarie’s LinkedIn and Facebook with tips, tools and inspiration. To contact us, email, that’s

Susan: Okay, stay safe, stay healthy and remember, together we’re better and stronger.

CrisMarie: Take care.


CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

109 views0 comments
bottom of page