Are you afraid of conflict? You are not alone. It is human nature to avoid situations that make us uncomfortable. And today, as jobs become more precious and tensions rise in the work place, conflict creates an even bigger stress load and can lead to irreparable damage to our jobs and relationships.
We are seeing a big upswing in folks struggling to break out of emotions that keep them from freely speaking their truth. First of all one needs to identify what emotions you are feeling and when you feel them realizing all along that emotional overload can block you from success.
So… what to do? Perhaps start with just the idea of conflict resolution instead of festering and brewing. Starting small by addressing a situation that irks you, for example is a good way to begin your practice. Let’s say that you have a co-worker who really gets under your skin. This person is someone who pops their head into your work space several times a day for no particular reason. They disrespect your time and can’t seem to take a hint…. So?????
First, get a handle on everything you’ve been feeling around the situation by applying self-honesty. Then move into these basic steps of conflict resolution:
- Open your eyes…. Although maintain eye contact isn’t easy for everyone, most people prefer it. It shows a level of trust and respect. Looking your co-worker (friend, family member) in the eye when they interrupt you this time will give them your full attention and demonstrate patience. Be sure to cultivate this patience by paying attention to your body and regulating your breathing (if needed) so that you avoid making eye contact that is intimidating or threatening.
- Open you ears….Listen is crucial to conversation, especially when emotions come into play. It is too easy to misinterpret what is being said when you are overly emotional. The brain can only handle so much at once. It may be tempting to begin speaking straight away, in order to get the topic out on the table upfront. However, truly successful conflict resolution requires you to be a receiver first and a mouth piece second. There are many ways you can continue to demonstrate patience and mentally prepare yourself by being fully present in the moment as it arises. Active listening is a great way to put your co-worker (friend, family) and yourself at ease in this scenario. Examples of active listening include nodding your head, smiling or frowning when appropriate and responding with phrases like, “I see,” or “Mmmmmm-hmmmm”. An advanced active listening technique, called mirroring, helps you to further sift through the information your colleague is sharing. This is key when you are feeling impatient or otherwise emotional inside and may not be processing info correctly. In mirroring, you repeat back what the other person has said or sometimes even what she or he seems to be saying “between the lines,” I think you know what I mean.
- Open your heart…While staying as unemotional or calm as possible is important in conflict resolution, it is doubly as important to generate empathy for the person you are facing. Sometimes it is hard to find even an ounce of compassion for the one you are in conflict with, but this is a shortcut to this. Look for common ground; if you have to, start with the very issue you are arguing over. After all, on thing you can say for certain about this person is that you both feel passionate about what is at stake. In the case of your annoying co-worker, you can know that you both like being in your work space (probably for different reasons) and each of you wants more of YOUR particular time. When you open your heart to your co-worker from this point of view (remember the opening is specific), you are more apt to be amused and more easily relate. And when you open your heart to yourself, likewise, you are sure to protect your own boundaries and goals as the conversation progresses. Don’t forget to do this second part!!!
Making good eye contact, patiently listening to really discern what is being said, and employing empathy to find common ground are the basic tenets of conflict resolution — big or small. Use ‘em and walk your way through controversy and find peace for yourself.
So no conflict here… am gonna go find me some coffee and relax a bit….