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It was a difficult case. Multiple complaints, complex situation, extremely angry family member. The conversation was rocky, the tone sarcastic and violent. I felt I was being crucified for something I could not do much about, and I ran out of options.

The caller became even more escalated, now yelling. And I instinctively knew...I should not bring this in, because it would not help. But it just escaped: "I am sorry, but this conversation is becoming abusive, let's take a moment", I said in a firm but polite way. And then the response:

"But you know what, this is NOT ABOUT YOU!"

I thought it was - I was offended by the tone. Days later, after reflecting on it, I could it see it differently. It was true, it was NOT about me. By making that comment, I shifted the conversation on me, instead keeping it balanced. Instead of grounding our conversation, I blew it up.

Conflict seems to always be about the 'I', the self-asserting ego. The more you bring 'I, me, mine' in the conversation, the more you fan the flames. That is why the best mediators start by looking for commonalities ('WE') between disputing sides, instead of pointing out differences (ME/ YOU). Next time you are triggered, remember - it's NOT about's all about how you react to it.

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