Three words that can transform a conflict into a fresh start.
When speaking with someone you disagree with, the most courageous thing you could do is simply say “tell me more”.
I’ve been thinking about communication skills lately. No matter how suave of a communicator you are there is always room for improvement. With so many polarizing issues making it harder to authentically connect with others, the need for good communication skills is more important than ever.
Whether in a workplace or personal relationship, the problem typically starts with conflict over a difference in opinion which gets exasperated by money, power and/or feelings. To “keep the peace” people often mind their tongue while in earshot of those with whom they disagree. Anyone who has tried it knows, the whole strategy falls apart in a bad way with a misspoken word, a look or a leak by your confidant.
“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” – Tim Ferriss
There is a better way to manage conflict – use it. Conflict transformation is about active listening which simply means staying present and listening in the same way you want to be heard. If something spoken strikes a nerve with you, say “tell me more” rather than tuning out so that you can plan your response.
Staying present during conflict requires some curiosity to understand how the other person is formulating their ideas and perspectives. Judging is part of the process but rather than judging as right or wrong, listen for the common ground and the insights that may shed light on your own fears and biases.
Finding common ground and developing a deeper understanding of the other person’s perspectives will help you find new ways to connect and move forward.
No one benefits from staying stuck in the past or holding onto past hurts. Everyone wants to be understood, respected and ideally, accepted for who they are and what they bring to the relationship.
I discovered the book Braving the Wilderness while looking for resources on empathy and highly recommend adding it to your reading list. The stories from the book will help you put some of these concepts into practice.
If you don’t get a chance to read it before the holidays, the questions below provide a good framework for moving your relationships that need a little TLC forward.
1/ Where are we now?
2/ What are we trying to accomplish for the future?
3/ What do we want our relationship to be?
4/ What do we need to create that future?
5/ What do we want for our relationship?
Reportedly, shifting your focus to the future is the key for creating something new and fresh.
American Thanksgiving for me marks the start of the holiday season. So with that, I wish you peace and happiness this holiday season – and Happy Thanksgiving!