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Conflict Resolution Speaking Your Truth

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Practicing healthy conflict resolution skills helps in all areas of our lives…

How do we speak our truth without trying to control the other person?  How do we do this while still being kind?  These are questions that arose for me as I start my week and leave a weekend that included a couple of conflicts with my spouse.  We have a healthy 27 year relationship but still run into issues at times with this.  How do we do house improvement projects when we have very different ideas of what will work?  How do we clean the refrigerator and place items back in the refrigerator without thinking our way is the “right way”?  It all starts with 4 important elements:

Listen to your still small voice inside of you but challenge your fears:  What is true for us?  What do we prefer?  What will benefit us most and align with taking care of ourselves?  Our emotions can create a shadow that makes it hard for us to answer these questions.  Fear especially can impact this.  Fear creates worry and resentment and limits what is possible.  So use mindfulness, somatic awareness, journaling and other tools to help yourself be aware of how emotions might be limiting your awareness and actions through incorrect interpretations of what is happening.  In this situation with my husband, fear tells me something won’t work when it might actually work or that I am being manipulated.  Fear also tells me I have to be right when it really doesn’t matter. Fear causes me to avoid setting boundaries when they are needed.  It blocks forward movement in our house improvement projects.  It blocks my ability to enjoy the process.  By journaling about these interpretations and challenging them, as well as staying in the present moment by connecting to my body, mind and heart, it becomes clear what the real situation is and allows better decision making.  Sometimes conflict doesn’t occur because I have dealt with my own internal conflict, fear and other emotions. 

Be clear about what is important and consider what shared goals are:  Do you ever find you are in conflict with someone and realize that it isn’t that important?  For instance, my husband thought the yogurt should be put in the refrigerator differently than I did.  Ultimately, is that really important?  The bigger shared goals of treating each other with kindness and respect and getting the refrigerator clean outweighed in what position the yogurt should sit in the refrigerator.  On a broader scale, you might ask:  what is for my wellbeing, for the wellbeing of the other person and leads to peace in the relationship?  Peace in the relationship doesn’t mean hard issues are not discussed, but means that greater peace arises when we realize that we matter in the relationship but so does the other person.

Use thoughtful, timely, kind, necessary words:  I love the phrase “say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean”.  There is a balance between being firm and clear while still having compassion for the other person and kind toward them.  Sometimes, silence that is coming from a loving heart is the answer because it is not time to say something; maybe the other person is overcome  by emotions.  In that case, it is not the time to share your perspective and expect that it will be able to be heard.  The previous steps help with this step because if your communication is coming from your most skillful intentions based in care for yourself and others, you won’t need the other person’s approval or validation of what you are saying.

Listen to the other person with compassion:  Compassion is more than being nice to someone.  It involves listening to each other without formulating replies in our heads, suspending all judgment, giving the other person undivided attention.  Paying attention to your body can be very helpful with this….especially attending to your breath.  Where are you breathing?  Are you breathing in your chest, your middle torso or your lower torso?  This will help you pay attention.  Compassion naturally arises when we are in the present moment.  Notice thoughts that block compassion.  Notice emotions in the other person and emotions in you.  Try to put yourself in their situation.  We are often unaware of the pain others experience.  Hurt people hurt people.  Even if the other person is being angry, underneath they might be hiding pain.

These four elements help me in parenting, in leading others, in coaching and dealing with clients.  Being able to be aware of myself and what arises in me around difficult situations and conflict helps me to see that there are gifts in difficulty like the lotus grows from mud.

For assistance with resolving conflict and living life to its fullest, contact me to help you through my coaching process.