Well sometimes people ask me how they should handle conflict better, and really we should make our own New Year’s Resolutions. The real point is to pick a few and stick to them, figure out any blocks and check how our Elephant aka unconscious mental routines are behaving. But hey it may help to have a long list to pick and mix from. So for conflict, here goes:
- Conflict Denial: Figure out what conflict you are denying and let fester, and see if you can’t face up to it
- Systematic Approach: Use some sort of systematic conflict discipline from this blog or from say ‘Getting to Yes’ by Roger Fisher and William Ury
- Listen, listen, listen. If the conflict is with a significant other, learn to listen and recognize that the greatest obstacle to effective listening to the significant other is our fear of the emotions that this causes and how we handle them
- Identity. If you are struggling with the question of identity as you grow up or because you are at a time of major transition in your life, remember that identity is a position. It can be rigid, but that any position, including your newly emerging identity as a young adult or as a post mid life crisis adult or whatever, has interests. Look out for your interests and they will take care of your identity.
- Put Downs. The best response to a put down is to call it: ‘Is this a put down?’
- Empathy. Try on the other side’s shoes in conflict. To do that you have to be comfortable in your own shoes and know your own interests. But walking round the other side of the table is interesting to say the least
- Creativity. Think of conflict as something that starts as a very small solution space as you arm wrestle and see if you can expand solution space by asking ‘what if’ either in private or even with the other side.
- Mediation. What would your conflict look like to a disinterested outside observer. Can you play mediator or do you need to get a third party involved?
- Deal Clarity. If you make progress in resolving a conflict, don’t forget to get some clear understanding of the way forward. Who is going to do what, try to behave differently, whatever?
- Learn, learn, learn. Use conflict to learn about others people, and also to learn to handle it better.
There you go, some possible New Year’s Resolution material.
Though, I might also add one over-arching resolution for more than just conflict: learn to meditate. Plenty of resources for that, but it has transformed my life and you don’t need a particular belief system to do it. Just try it and see how, among other things, it changes how you handle conflict.
I also find looking at a clear night sky in complete darkness out in the countryside, gives me a sense of perspective on conflict and everything else. Have a peaceful New Year!
For this perspective, right this minute, try this. I have this image as a large poster on my wall at home: Hubble Deep Field South, looking back 13 billion years: that’s how long the light has been traveling at 186,000 miles per second, before it hit this camera on the Hubble Space Telescope.