Do you think you know what it takes to reduce conflict, or to replace conflict with cooperation?
While you may think you know what you know, if you recently felt frustrated about someone’s behavior, left a community group or ended a romantic relationship, argued with a family member or colleague, or thought someone was “being a pain in the a**”, then your experience shows that you may NOT have mastery here.
You may not know what you DON’T know, or have not yet embodied, in effective, competent, powerful habits of conflict resolution. Even the partisan split in our country is a testament that, in our country, we are not embodying these skills.
Transforming conflict to cooperation takes more than I-statements and a willingness to boldly confront each other. It only takes one round of, “I think you’re being a jerk,” or “I think you’re just trying to control everything,” to turn I-statements and “respectful confrontation” into a resentful divide.
How do we address issues in ways that result in sincere cooperation instead of conflict?
Most of us are trained that, when we are frustrated, scared or experiencing pain, we should look to see what is causing our dis-ease and do whatever it takes to stop the offending party from perpetrating the offense again. We’re trained to diagnose the perpetrator. Why is he or she the villain they are?
Finding the source of a problem is useful to help fix it.
However, when we finger-point, blame, label and diagnose why people do what they do, the result is conflict and divisiveness. People get defensive, or return the finger-pointing. Frustration, resentment and distrust escalate.
Or worse, instead of being WITH each other and coming to win-win outcomes, we often choose “the law of two feet” and just go somewhere else.
How can we have both WIT-ness and WITH-ness? How can we both objectively see issues with equanimity and also find win-win resolutions that support us staying WITH each other?
Here are 5 ways you can replace frustration, drama, conflict, opposition and divisiveness to easy, drama-free, win-win solutions:
1. Discuss facts, not conclusions. Conclusions, diagnoses, assessments and labels provoke debate. “He’s just controlling,” “No he’s not.” To help get the experience you want, focus only on the facts, “He didn’t do what he said he’d do.” Here is another example: “You’re being uncooperative,” “No I’m not!” Instead, name just the facts, “I noticed you arrived at 8:10am instead of 8am.” Here’s another example: “She’s being vindictive,” Maybe, maybe not. Try instead, “She voted ‘no’ after saying she would vote ‘yes’.” What actually happened? What did you physically see or hear? Stay with that, and then go on to numbers 2 and 3.
2. Focus on what you most deeply value; don’t talk about the other person or what they should be or do. Instead of, “Stop arguing with me,” try, “I want more cooperation between us than this.” Instead of, “He’s testing me,” try, “What I really want is more support around the house.” Instead of, “You should stop complaining and get a job,” try, “I want confidence you will get what you need.” What is the benevolent core value underneath your thinking? What does your heart most yearn for, for yourself? Name it.
3. Make an action-request, right now, that would feed what you most deeply want, right now. Instead of, “Stop arguing with me,” ask for something that CAN be done right now. “I really want confidence I’m heard, could you please take two breaths after I speak?” or “I want to trust my point is received, could you tell me what you value about what I said before you respond to it?” Instead of, “He’s trying to test me,” try, “I really ache for more support around the house, could you help me fold clothes for 10 minutes right now?” Instead of, “You complain all the time,” try, “Could you tell me what you would prefer instead?”
4. Understand and reflect core values before responding or trying to fix anything. If cooperation isn’t happening, odds are the other person is not getting the felt-sense that you’re on the same page with them. Can you name 3 of the other person’s innocent, benevolent core values? Can you actually feel the benevolence and innocence behind their behavior? If not, go back and reflect the other person’s heart until you really feel it. “If you got your way, is it that you hope it would protect your family?” “Is it that you’re worried and want your own space?” “Are you upset because you want care for your concerns?” What beautiful core value is most deeply motivating them right now?
5. Reach to get your core values reflected and felt before trying to fix anything. Can the other person accurately name 3 of the core values behind what you said? Do you have the felt-sense that they experience the benevolent innocence of your values right now? If not, go back and ask them to reflect your heart until you feel them open to your concerns. “Before we try to solve this, I want hope that we’re on the same page. Could you please tell me what I want that you think is worthwhile?” Or, “I want confidence that you’re holding my concerns equally. Could you tell me 3 things you hear I care most about?” Remember to stick with core values, not the strategies to fulfill those values!
When we’re in debate, conflict, argument or opposition to each other, we inadvertently reach to protect ourselves and fortify our position. In our emotional charge, we drift into our thoughts, beliefs, and assessments of other, trying to find the right path to fix the problem. The problem is, these habits aren’t very effective.
Instead, when we simplify conversation to just the facts, core values, do-able requests, and a mutual felt-sense of the true value in each other’s benevolent concerns we increase the likelihood of connection, compassionate cooperation and win-win resolutions. When we walk together toward a mutual point of joy, I call this, “Procession”. Walking together is as much about heart and heart-connection as it is about intelligent insight and awareness.
Who are you in conflict with, quietly or not-so-quietly? What core value would you like to experience more of? What can be done in 10 minutes that would feed that core value?
Where can your embodiment of these skills bring greater cooperation and less conflict?
For more information, or for help to resolve a situation you’re facing, call to schedule a Free 1-Hour Consultation – 1.877.535.5438 Mon-Thurs 12pm-4pm.
Among the other areas of professional, spiritual and personal development, (Maya-G) Gail Taylor coaches individuals, couples, families, parents, leaders and professionals on generative thinking and win-win communication skills. Get measurable results! For more information, or for help to resolve a situation you’re facing, call to schedule a Free 1-Hour Consultation – 1.877.535.5438 Mon-Thurs 12pm-4pm.