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Conflict Resolution Step 2 – Communicate From the Heart

After we’ve stepped away from our escalating conflict to cool down (see Intro and Step One), it’s time to return to our delicate conversation.  Without the adrenaline and chemical reactions that occur during arguments, we can hear, think, and speak more clearly.  One last thing before we go back; let’s take a moment to put things into a perspective that will best help our relationship and this situation.  We can do this by asking ourselves a few key questions.

How important is this relationship to our life?  Often the most important relationships bring about the most intense feelings in us, consequently leading us to damage them the most during conflict.   Remembering the importance of the relationship helps us approach the other person with the care and respect they deserve regardless of whether we agree or not.

How important is this specific issue?  Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to change another person’s opinion or attitude that we don’t even stop to ask ourselves if it is even that important. Moreover, is it even right for us to expect others to agree with us all the time?  Usually our differences as well as our similarities attract us to others in all types of relationships, so trying to remove those diminishes them as an individual and our bond together.  Thinking about what drives us, intensely at times, to want others to see things our way sheds light on our motives so we can better understand ourselves, too.

Consider how the conversation might continue if there were no “right” or “wrong” viewpoint.  Even though we may have very strong feelings about this subject, putting those on hold to fully hear and feel another perspective can be very enlightening.  Hearing about experiences that have led someone to feel strongly in a different way helps expand our understanding of others and the world we live in.

Now we’re ready to return with curiosity and empathy to the other person.  Let’s start by telling them how we feel about them.  Then, let’s ask them to tell us more about why they feel as they do about this issue.  We will listen very intently, pushing aside any internal judgments or urges to blurt out responses.  Listen without interrupting until they have completely finished.  This is so hard to do sometimes, and we’ll discuss that in a moment.

An important next step we often forget is to restate back what we heard to be sure we did not misunderstand anything.  Again, no judgment here, only respectfully repeating in our own words what we understand them to feel.

Now we will share how we feel, beginning by telling the other person that we want to really have some time to think about what they’ve said, and that after sharing how we feel, we would really like it if they would also take time to think about our perspective so we can discuss it further. Then, we share our perspective without responding at all to anything they have just said.  Let me say that again: we won’t judge, criticize, or respond to their statements now.  We will only explain our feelings using something called “I statements”.  Beginning sentences with “I think…” and “I feel…”  as opposed to “You don’t…”, “You should…” etc. helps keep us talking only about our own feelings, thoughts, and opinions.

As mentioned before, this is very difficult to do at first, and really any time we feel passionately about something.  Our pesky ego always wants to be heard and always need to be right.  Honoring our spirit and staying in a place of respect for ourselves and others helps us to be patient with ourselves and others and deepens our connections and relationships.  Whenever we catch ourselves judging or arguing, we can simply recognize ego creeping back in, apologize, and resume more respectful ways of communicating.

When we’re done, let’s ask to continue discussing this at (name a specific day/time) so we can have a bit more time to really think about how one another feels.  If we are both in an emotional place to make it possible for us to end the conversation with something bonding, this is a great time to do something fun together while, as already agreed, refraining from discussing the ‘hot topic’.

The next post will discuss ways to again resume and resolve this conversation.  Meanwhile, please share whether you find this beneficial, any questions or situations that may arise, or requests for future blog topics either here or on our Facebook page.  Meanwhile, shine on and remember who you are!

Sheryl Sitts, Founder and CIO (Chief Inspirational Officer)

Journey of Possibilities

Sheryl’s Blog

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