RESOLVING CONFLICT BY DISSOLVING IT
1. DEFINE WHAT THE CONFLICT IS ACTUALLY ABOUT.
“What is it, exactly, that we’re fighting about?”
Everyone sees the world through their own, unique window. Studies on spousal disputes show that about 75% of the time, partners are fighting about completely different issues. These are the kinds of questions that should be asked: “What’s really the issue?” then, “What, exactly, is your concern here?” or “What do you think/feel is our point of conflict?”. Then the questions should move to something like: “What is it that you want to accomplish?” and, ultimately, “How can we work this out?”
2. DIRECT THE CONFLICT TOWARD A DIFFERENT REALITY.
“It’s not you vs. me.. it’s you and me vs. the problem!”
Remember…the problem is the problem! It’s counterproductive to try to “defeat” the other side, because after losing, the other side just wants a rematch, only with more firepower so that they can win. If you “win” at the other person’s expense, you also pay a price in the long run. You create a world of rematch after rematch after rematch. Bringing your adversaries to their knees may bring you instant gratification, but bringing them to the table causes everyone to win!
3. DISCOVER YOUR SHARED CONCERNS AGAINST YOUR ONE SHARED SEPARATION.
“Where is our common ground?”
It’s always smart to deal with the conflict from where the relationship is the strongest, not the weakest. In other words, let your place of agreement be ground zero, because it’s easier and more effective to move from areas of agreement to areas of disagreement, than the other way around. Meet the other person where they are, acknowledge their viewpoint, and then stand on this common ground as a platform from which to work out respective differences.
4. DISCERN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INTERPRETATIONS AND FACTS.
“Let me ask a different question.”
It’s pointless to ask people who have been in a fight what happened. You’ll just get their interpretation/opinion/version of what occurred. A better question is “What did you do or say?” Then you get perceptions that are much closer to facts, not merely opinions. Basically, facts trump perceptions in conflict dissolution.
5. DEVELOP A HABIT OF FORGIVENESS.
“I forgive you because I want to forgive you.”
Forgiveness is a habit that can be developed, and reconciliation is impossible without it. Many people are willing to “bury the hatchet”, but they insist on remembering exactly where they buried it, in case they need it for the next battle! Let it go completely (you’ll only be over it when you decide to be over it). Rewrite your grievance story. The best definition of forgiveness is “giving up all hope for a better past.”
6. DECIDE TO START LISTENING ACTIVELY.
“When I listen, people talk to me”.
That’s a much better declaration than “When I talk, people listen to me”! Habit Five in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Listen with the intent to understand, not just with the intent to respond. Take the first step toward reconciliation by being willing to listen first. This unblocks the logjam of “right/wrong thinking”, it controls the ego, diffuses power struggle, and causes compassion to triumph over fear.
7. DEAL WITH EVERYTHING OUT OF A PURE HEART.
“I want what’s best for all of us!”
You can’t resolve conflict and move other people away from violence if your own agendas and motives are questionable. Moral authority is imperative in matters of resolution. When you stop needing to always be right (an addiction that has to be broken), you will become a greater servant to humanity. This is a “big picture” concept, but you can do it. Remember, love never fails.