I’m very passionate about a word and that word is, “Perception”. So often conflict in the home, at the office, on the school playground and almost anywhere else, could be avoided if we looked to understand each other as individuals, as opposed to finding fault, when we don’t share the same beliefs as others. I have so many ideas around conflict and how it can be resolved but more importantly, is it necessary in the first place?
Below are just a few ideas that have helped us avoid conflict over the years:
Practice the Pause
Such a simple sentence but it holds so much weight. How often do we get annoyed, freaked out and irate with someone, over what seems to be a big deal and we go to battle. Immediately there is animosity, resentment and conflict. How would things change if you learnt to practice the pause. When in doubt pause, when hurt pause, when we are tired and irritable pause. Golden rule, never attack anyone when you are angry, you will always land up saying things you regret. The sad fact is that between what is said and not meant and what is meant and not said most love is lost. The more you exercise self control on a consistent basis the stronger you will get.
It is what it is!
You have an appointment and your colleague is an hour late. You are angry, insulted and quite honestly just about to give them a piece of your mind. If however you are well trained you could apply the rule, “It is what it is”.
How will this diffuse conflict? Well, it will stop you from having an outburst. It will help you to practice the pause and to think rationally. You wont jump to conclusions, you wont be defensive and you will open your mind to what may be the cause, of what appears to be somebody else’s rudeness.
What we have experienced so often, is that if we are able to give others the benefit of the doubt there is almost always a good reason. If we get defensive all that we do is allow others to steal our joy.
We have applied this principle in so many areas of our lives. I can honestly say, I don’t get irate when stuck in traffic, my first thought is, “It is what it is”. There could be an accident and I am so grateful we are not in it.
How often could you apply the “It is what it is” principle?
If I say something is it going to make the situation better or worse
This statement is worth it’s weight in gold. I have used this technique extensively in my life. I have used it with my husband, my kids, my friends and with work colleagues because some things are just not worth getting irate about. This sentence literally helped me personally avoid many an argument. How often is it that in the spur of the moment someone annoys, offends, or even hurts your feelings and your first thought is to retaliate. Practice the pause and ask yourself if what has just happened will make a big difference to your life in the bigger scheme of things. I have let things go by that have really irked me at a particular point only to find out that within half an hour, what I thought earlier was a big deal, really doesn’t matter but had I retaliated would have caused an explosion. We should always be looking to be the best version of ourselves and if we get good at this skill, it may even leave us feeling proud and with a sense of accomplishment, which in turn will make us feel like a winner.
The Lettuce Principle
A really practical and simple story is that of the lettuce. If you plant a lettuce and the lettuce does not grow, we don’t look to the lettuce, we look to the reasons it is not growing. It may need more water, fertiliser or less sun. Yet when we have problems with our family, friends or colleagues we blame the person. We don’t seek to understand the other persons bad behaviour. Are their financial issues, are any of the kids at home sick, is their marriage in turmoil? How would our social skills improve, if like the lettuce we looked for the reason for the bad behaviour and tried to understand. One of the the most powerful sentences I ever heard was from the very wise leadership coach, John Maxwell, and he said, “hurting people hurt.” Taking this into account, maybe as opposed to getting irate, we could, lend an ear, give a hug or simply allow some things to pass. Conflict and a need to be right will only heighten the tension.
Discussions are always better than arguments.
If you were to discuss any problem you may have with another individual in a logical and calm manner you would find that in most cases issues can be resolved amicably. It is when we go straight for the kill, in an attacking and argumentative manner that all the wheels fall off and in most cases all you are left with is two miserable people and no solutions. When you go in to argue a point you will almost alway be looking to see who is right as opposed to what is right. You need to examine what it is you are trying to achieve before creating mayhem and resentment. Avoid assigning blame and look for solutions and in doing so you will appreciate that almost every negative situation can be dissolved.
Conflict is real and when heightened must be addressed and put to bed, because if not handled it leads to underlying stress, resentment and often illness. Sometimes conflict is inevitable and in a future blog I will give you some techniques that will help you resolve conflict but for now let’s focus on avoiding it. Your life will be much happier, if you learn to keep the peace.