One thing you must do when resolving conflict

 

What is the singular most important thing we must do, without which communication breaks down?  Communication is the key to resolving conflict. In fact, it is also the key to preventing and minimising conflict whether in our personal or professional lives. Often the word “communication” brings imagery of speaking and gestures, making oneself understood.

However, authentic listening is imperative. William Ury, the author of seminal book on negotiation “Getting to Yes” emphasized this aspect of communication as fundamental, yet often overlooked, to any conflict resolution. Without authentic listening, we are merely waiting our turn to speak.

So how do we do authentic listening?

  1. Be empathic.

Empathy is the art of walking in another’s shoes, stranger or otherwise. It is to acknowledge and take in another’s experiences from their perspective, not from our own experience, views, ideas or values. It is seeking to understand. We may not agree, but we can understand.

Empathy is a component of the widely known skillset of emotional intelligence. It can be learned.

  1. Pay attention.

Listening requires attending to the speaker and the content. It is a matter of integrity to prepare ourselves mentally to meet the other. To orientate ourselves to acknowledge, to be open and to accept the other, without preconception. This is not to disregard our experiences, our ‘instinct’, our intelligence but rather to move them slightly aside to make space for other possibilities, constructive ones perhaps. This is the essence of not being closed-minded, and to maybe believe in surprise and a little magic. J

  1. Put your ego aside

Sometimes we hear things which are unpleasant… about ourselves. Sometimes we hear things that seems to be stranger than fiction and inaccurate. It’s confronting, and our first instinct is to deny, to return volley, to give as good as we got if not harder. Don’t.

It is not about whether we are right or wrong, or whether we look good or bad in the speaker’s eyes, nor the effect of what is being said to us. It’s not about us. It is how we take this opportunity to understand the speaker’s perspective, how he or she could have arrived at a certain conclusion, to see their truth.

It is about the speaker and the opportunity provided to express their experience, views, ideas or value. The listener’s job is to pay attention, to listen with empathy without judgment.

  1. Silence is necessary

When we hold space for more, more arrive. To do this, we keep silent. The speaker may be considering whether to add, to elaborate, to divulge… sometimes the speaker is expecting a return argument, a denial, a scoff… many things are happening in the speaker’s mind, what we cannot know for sure. But if we stay silent, just for a little bit longer, perhaps we would find out. It is not a competition as to who should speak faster or more. So give the speaker, and the conversation time.

  1. Demonstrate you have heard

To build a relationship, it is important over the course of the conversation to indicate to the speaker that we have listened and heard.

We do this when we ask discerning questions seeking clarification, when we acknowledge the emotional content of what’s been said, when we recount the facts told to us as the other sees them. We are able to convey this when we imbue the conversation with a generosity of spirit in receiving the speaker and giving the speaker the attention and empathy necessary in the situation.

Authentic listening, as with any skill, will require practice, practice and more practice. Enjoy!

 

© Transfigure Therapy 2016

Acceptance – the choice to begin a fresh

You wake each morning to a new day. And with each new day, you can choose to begin afresh, or you can choose to see the same things, do similar things… and more likely experience the same discontent, annoyed by the same matters, and aggravated by the same people or situations. Every. Single. Day.

As Anais Nin said, ‘we see the world as we are’ from our own unique lens. The same-same each day suggests the same old stale perspectives.

You know there are different perspectives or different approaches such as:

  • one that brings peace of mind instead of a disruptive unfocused mind, or
  • one that opens a generous heart instead of a closed constricted heart.

I know because I have been in that place of resistance and subsequent peace.
Because of something you are not accepting, your peace of mind is shattered. What that is, you do not know… yet. All you can deduce is a sense of restlessness manifesting in impatience, annoyance and frustration.

Does that sound oddly familiar?
Perhaps it is a new path before you that is unfamiliar and uncertain, the need for acceptance from others not received, or perhaps it is a fear of that contrary self, speaking out inside. What are you not accepting of your self that exists without your knowing? Is it something in your personal or professional life that you do not wish to confront? Can you answer the questions? If so, why are there still problems? The unfamiliar is everywhere and around all of us.
Acceptance takes more than an ‘I know what it is’. In spite of the old adage, knowing is ‘not’ half the battle, it is the beginning of it. Acceptance is not resignation to a state and certainly not avoidance of reality.

What then is acceptance?
Acceptance is an acknowledgement and warm embracing with goodwill and without guilt.
It is saying, “I’m ok. I’ve got this”, “it is what it is” or “all will be as it should be.” When we get to a place where we can accept who we are and where we are in our life, we gain peace of mind.
Peace of mind also comes from our acceptance of others and of our world. Through acceptance of others and of our world, we attain a balance to better handle situations in life and in the work place.
In my less than gracious moments, in my interaction with others, I do end up watching and occasionally internally begin questioning, somewhat critically, why others do what they do, to grapple with the why, how and wherefores of our relationships. Negativity abounds.
In a similar vein, we are agitated over how others perceive us, and why things happen to us.
Is it beneficial to your wellbeing to be stuck in the vicious cycle of blame and victimhood?
Does it bring you peace of mind?

What does acceptance do?
Accepting what is – the person before you, the situation in the moment – allows you to step out and see a way forward. When you accept others for who they are, you give yourself space to explore, without interference of:

  • The pushing
  • The resisting
  • The explaining
  • The confronting

You give yourself permission to be free.
Sometimes things happen, they just do. It has little to do with you, you are not responsible or to blame; you are simply entangled in it. Can you accept that? Do you wail and rail against society or against the Universe? Or do you accept it?

I do not mean to ignore or undermine the awful situations in which some find themselves. When you can step out from the vicious cycle – the whirlwind of blaming others or yourself and claiming your victimhood repeatedly – you will feel empowered to make positive choices. You can then acknowledge the thing has occurred; and from that place, move forward with a vision to create something new.

Like forgiveness, acceptance takes time and can only happen when you are ready to do so. It is different for everyone… there is no rule, no timeframe… just the awareness of what can be. It is a choice for you to make.

What do you need to accept, about yourself, your relationships, your situation, and about your world, in order to move forward, to begin afresh…?

 

© Transfigure Therapy 2016