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This phrase, so dubbed by psychologists, refers to our body’s fundamental and innate responses that prepare our bodies to react to a perceived threat to our survival. When activated we respond to our environment in a far different way than when inactive. In brief it overrides all rational thinking as the system seeks to maintain one thing only and that is survival either through getting away from or eliminating the danger.
It is argued that the same hard-wired system within our brain still operates today and is stimulated by acute stresses and the perception of any threat to our wellbeing. To that end when in conflict, for instance at work, we recognize that potentially there is a lot at stake and much of that ties in to the fact that we are at work as part of a survival mechanism (to get money nourish ourselves) when our job status or position at work is threatened it is easy to see why the body may take this as a very serious threat.
Individuals will be on heightened alert to anything which feeds into their perception of the threat and this could certainly be seen as irrational behaviour and overreacting from those who are not perceiving the same threat. It is essential for mediators to be able the recognize the behaviours which are involved in fight or flight reactions in order to help parties rationalize their own behaviour by considering alternatives and reflecting on how these reactions may affect others.
For example, a party who leaves the room as soon as the person who they have been in conflict with enters, may be asked to consider how this may be perceived in the other persons mind and if whether that is something they would want; if not, what alternative ways of dealing with the situation are available? Check out this website www.thebodysoulconnection.com/EducationCenter/fight.html