Over the holidays, I had a tough conversation, and have thought through what I learned and hope it is helpful for you as you face conflict at work and home. These are good reminders for your team as well. If you want to pass this along to them, feel free.
I felt attacked by a family member over the holidays and I reacted emotionally, specifically got angry and had a hard time talking through the situation.
When we feel attacked, we feel unsafe and in this situation I was trying to protect another family member from getting hurt. Yes, my mama bear came out.
When we go through emotional conflict, there are some basic steps that will help us to move through it productively.
- Breathe. For some people, conflict makes us feel unsafe. I grew up in a home where yelling was normal. Now, when I am in conflict, it congers up those emotions I had when I was young. I felt unsafe. Now when I am in conflict, I have to tell myself that I am safe and one of the first things we can do is breathe. This signals our body to calm down.
- Write down what is being said. Writing grounds our mind. It begins to slow our mind down and gives us an opportunity to objectively listen to what is being said. When I am in conflict, I forget what people say. When I write it down, I can go back to recall their words.
- Repeat what they say and ask did I hear that correctly? Sometimes I am in shock that someone is speaking to me the way they are. This shock causes my brain to freeze and I feel as though I am not able to respond positively. When I repeat what they say, it gives my brain time to process their comments and ask if I am understanding them correctly.
- Try to understand why they are feeling the way they are. Ask questions like: How does this situation impact you? What do you ultimately want? Did something happen prior to this that caused this response?
- Find common ground. Determine where you agree and where you disagree and tell them. In my situation, when I told him that I disagreed, I felt he threatened me. At that point, I had to make a decision. Would I agree so that he would not fulfill his threat or would I stand my ground. Ultimately, I feel it is important to stick to our values and convictions. We can’t control what others do, we can only control ourselves.
- Work towards a plan to move forward. I just listened to a video by Donald Miller and he said that after a conflict, it is normal to “villainize” a person, or talk bad about them. I challenge you to remember that everyone is doing the very best they can in life. When we can be thankful for our relationships, learn from them, and move forward, we will grow both personally and professionally.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to grow in your abilities to move through conflict and enjoy relationships, read “The 100/0 Principle” by Al Ritter. He says, “it behooves us to take 100% responsibility for the relationship, expecting nothing in return.” It’s a great perspective and will challenge how you think about great relationships.
I’ll end with a quote by Stephen Covey,
“The real beginning of influence comes as others sense you are being influenced by them-
When they feel understood by you-
That you have listened deeply and sincerely, and that you are open.”
My holiday conflict had not yet resolved, so I called and asked what his expectations were so that we could move forward.
He told me he wanted to feel understood.
I failed. I failed to listen deeply and sincerely.
Today, I am thankful I get to learn and work towards a more healthy relationship. I think that’s what we all want in life, healthy relationships that bring us joy.
Life is the Point,