6 Keys to Resolving Conflict
by: Loretta Love Huff
1. DISTINGUISH FACTS FROM FICTION.
Remember “Dragnet and Sgt. Friday? His famous line was “Just the facts, Ma’am.” We all think our view of the world is the “right” one: the only right one. Recognize that you just have a piece of the ‘truth’. Try creating a police or news report that captures both your view of what happened as well as the view of the person with whom you’re having the conflict. This will help you release your attachment to the ‘right-ness’ of your personal perspective.
When we disagree with someone, we often get worked up over not just the event that happened, but the judgments we made about the situation and the person, the feelings that were evoked in us and the story we make up about what it all means. Take ownership for your own feelings. The other person didn’t “make you feel” a particular way. They did what they did. You chose to feel the way you did. You gave the situation all the meaning it had for you. There was a whole range of emotions you could have felt and conclusions you could have drawn. You picked the ones you did, so notice if they represent a familiar theme in your life.
2. DISTINGUISH MOTIVE AND EMOTIONS
We often assume we know what the other person was intending to do ‘to us’. The only thing we really know is the reaction we had to the other person’s behavior. Recognize that they may not have ‘meant’ to disrespect (or hurt, or ignore or control) you. Also recognize that if you are the perpetrator, just because your motive was innocent, that doesn’t negate the feelings the other person experienced.
3. CONVERT COMPLAINTS TO REQUESTS
Imagine that any complaint (yours or another’s) is really a request in disguise. When we are in situations we don’t like and we feel powerless, the natural response is to complain and blame.
Next time you catch yourself complaining, stop and ask yourself “If something could be different here and I would like that better, what would ‘that’ be?” Then ask for it! Make the request to someone who has the power to grant it. Complaining or making requests to anyone else won’t get your problem solved.
4. START WHERE YOU ARE
Sometimes, you know exactly what you want to say but the words get stuck in your throat like a big wad of chunky peanut butter. There is a clear message to be delivered, but you hesitate to say it aloud out of fear, worry or concern about the other person’s possible reaction. At those times, start with where you’re stuck. Open the dialog with “I’d like to say something, but I’m afraid that I’ll… or you’ll…” You’ll be surprised at the impact that sharing your vulnerability will have on the receptivity of the other person. You’ll also be surprised at how easily the important message will now come out.
5) TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION, ROLE OR INFLUENCE.
Recognize that you may have something to do with the continued existence of the problem.
This is generally hard for people to deal with. It’s so much easier to blame someone else for your problems. It’s the “those idiots over there” syndrome. “If they would just…” They may not.
Figure out what actions you can take to solve your own dilemma.
6) FORGIVE AND GIVE YOURSELF A GIFT
Forgiveness is not condoning or even accepting. Forgiving someone in your heart who has ‘wronged’ you, just releases your agony. It does nothing for them. Holding on to your grievance will just keep your blood pressure high. If you can’t muster “I forgive them”, try “I’m willing to forgive them.” Then let it go and let your willingness salve your pain.