As well rounded individuals we have access to four basic ways of perceiving the world: feeling, hearing, seeing and understanding. Of course there are many more ways available to us such taste, smell, touch, as well as intuition. However, when it comes to making sense of the world, the four primary basics are what we come to rely on from a very early age. Even if we are blind or deaf, we still have an energetic component to these physical attributes and are able to differentiate between them. Each mode has specific gifts and qualities and when we are in balance we have access to all four of our primary senses. We do however, have one that we rely on more readily and this becomes our stronger sense, we also a least accessible. In our relationships, whether its our partner, colleague, friend or boss we often draw to us a person that has our least accessible mode as their strength; nature is always seeking to balance us out and we naturally want to develop ourselves as individuals. When a relationship is working well someone who has our least accessible mode serves to balance us out. However, when things go wrong it can feel like you are on completely different planets. When we go under stress; we go into ‘fight, flight or freeze’, which is our survival mode. A relationship in conflicts presents a threat to our identity. This is the case whether we are in conflict with our partner, child, friend, relative, boss, colluege We all (including children) lean primarily towards one sensory mode but we also have the ability to develop the other three senses and use the qualities of each according to our situation. Each mode offers many strengths and it would take a chapter for each to do them all justice however, in a nutshell: ‘Visuals’ are great visionaries; they see the bigger picture and are able to really see the potential of a person or situation. ‘Tonals’ are fantastic at reading between the lines and picking up on the nuances. They are able to hear what is not said and can give other people the feeling of being totally understood. ‘Kinesthetics’ are highly empathetic, caring and understanding ‘Digitals’ are extremely logical, clear thinking and kind. When we go under stress we tend to rely on one sense only. Nature is smart, and when we are under severe stress, the last thing we need is choice; having only one sense available to us allows us to make decisions fast and we naturally select the sense we trust most. It is not always obvious when we are balanced and using all the senses, which is our strongest mode, however, when we reflect on how we respond in a situation where we are under extreme stress most people, recognise themselves straight away and sometimes our partners and close friends see us clearer than we can! When we go under stress, not only do the other sensory perceptions check out, we also streamline our strongest sense and lose many of the gifts it usually brings us. ‘Visuals’ - Lose their ability to see the bigger picture and their vision becomes tunneled. Once they loose perspective, all the wisdom of being able to see the broader picture gets channeled into seeing only what is wrong with the person they are in conflict with. They are unable to see their part in it and believe they know exactly what the other needs to do in order to put things right and will often express their opinions forcefully. ‘Tonals’ - Under stress stop listening to what is being said and lose their ability to read between the lines. Instead they will go into internal dialogue and hear what isn’t being said at all. Everything becomes exaggerated, for example, you say “I’m sorry, I can’t see you tonight” and they hear “I don’t love you anymore”. Kinesthetics - Loose themselves in a different way, they feel they have hurt the person they are in conflict and focus all their attention on putting it right for them. They often exaggerate how bad it is for the other person and get very emotional. All they want is for everything to be ok again even if it is to their own detriment. Digitals completely switch off all emotion when under stress. They become calm cool and collected and can completely dismiss the person they are in conflict with labeling them over emotional. They can be very dismissive and will often walk away and do something else until the person they are in conflict with ‘calms down’. So just looking at one example: When a Digital and a Kinesthetic are in conflict one person will feel very emotional and upset that they have hurt their friend/partner/child (Kinesthetic) and the other will be completely cut off from their emotions, becoming cooler, calmer and more rational and feeling there is no use in arguing at all as they are right and very dismissive of the others feelings. Needless to say a digital will most probably win the argument as a Kinesthetic will back down whether they are right or not and be desperate to form a connection again. In arguments Visuals’ often win against Tonals and Kinesthetics as they tend to bully and refuse to back down until the other understands the error of their ways. So it is clear that often we win an argument because of the way our primary mode operates, not because we are necessarily right. Over time this can lead to resentment in relationships. The problem is compounded as relationships are often shaped under stress and unhealthy patterns and hierarchies can be established that are very far from the truth. These kinds of relationships, whether personal or professional, have no true foundation and serve to squash an individual’s ability to reach their full potential. This is just as true for the person winning the arguments as they are living in a tunnel with no true perception of what is going on. Inevitably such a relationship will fail at some point. It is much easier not to take something personally when you realise that this person is not ‘out to get you’, they are in survival. Equally it is important to check out your own assumptions. The other person may not be in the wrong (Visual), you may not have heard properly (Tonal), it may not be all your fault and maybe it’s time to stand up rather than back down (Kinaesthetic) and you may not be right (Digital). When you recognise what is really happening during conflict, it is futile to continue and essential that you stop and take some time to get back into balance. Go for a walk and release the excess adrenaline or use specific techniques to get you back into balance Whatever else you do, first of all stop. Stop wasting valuable time and energy and honour each other’s differences. If we are to live and work in harmony, creating successful, happy and healthy relationships, it is crucial to any kind of lasting success that we have more understanding for ourselves and for the people in our lives, both at home and at work.