We all have conflicts don’t we? This may be small reactions to what someone’s said or what’s being asked of us or they may be big ongoing disagreements with colleagues, family, friends that have resulted in total disconnection.
I don’t know about you but for me it can be rapid to go from feeling well, happy, content to suddenly – BAM I have a conversation and my back is up. Someone has said or done something I don’t like or want and I am fuming, complaining, uptight, ranting, moaning and pretty quickly blaming them for what has happened.
This happened for me over the festive break. I was really enjoying myself getting ready, about to get going with dinner and then I get a phone call. Oh could you add this…and how about doing dinner like this…and do this…and do that…and actually I don’t want that, I want this. All this 15mins before I was about to make a start. I was fuming!
Pretty much straight away I felt my body tense up, my voice become curt and I hear myself agreeing (when I don’t really want to). Then I hearing myself saying ‘well yes, but all that will take longer’, followed by a load of other no’s and negatives. Then I don’t quite know what happened but I hear the person on the other end of the phone say in a very frustrated voice ’right, fine see you later’ and that’s it, no niceties, we hang up. I come off the phone feeling angry, frustrated and wound up. How could this happen? This shouldn’t have happened today, how rude, inconsiderate and most of all how demanding of them. How dare they?!
Then some other family arrive, they already known about the conflict and they are saying this person isn’t coming! So now I’m getting: because this conflict has happened it has, from their perspective, ruined the day. Great. Merry Christmas!!!
To be quite honest, for a moment I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to resolve this so we could all get back to enjoying being together, but at the same time I was fuming. They should have said all those things, they should have offered support, they should have mentioned all this earlier, they should have said those things differently – they were wrong to behave like that and I am right to be angry about this.
Then it hit me, I am in a position.
This is what happens isn’t it?
We get into our ‘position’ and no way are we going to let them get away with this. I’m right, your wrong. This shouldn’t have happened. Omnipotence. I am going to defend my position at all costs!
Then it occurred to me that this is a recurring pattern for me and this person. If we are going to be in conflict, this is generally how we end up.
Then in the next moment I thought NO! I will not keep this going. I am not going to do this anymore. I know different, I have the knowledge and tools to choose a different path. So I pick up the phone and call back and, before I know it, I am apologising. I’m saying the truth which is: I do want to hear what you want, your ideas, your contribution – however I found this difficult, a lot to take at short notice and I heard your requests as a list of demands.
Then, my gosh, the conversation was awesome. We relay honestly what happened for each of us and I then hear the other person is saying ‘I’m sorry too, I realise it was a lot to say and ask at short notice’ and then we are talking, being real with each other – and it’s not conflict it’s connecting, really connecting. I feel relived, pleased, empowered and free.
All is well. And I’m really proud of how we transformed our conflict.
So as conflicts arise think about these 3 things that could transform your perspective:
- Position – are you in a position, what are you holding onto that the other person had done ‘wrong’?
- Truth – what’s the truth? Should something different have happened? With your objective hat on, if you were being less all or nothing about this, what would you see?
- Omnipotence – are you all seeing and all knowing? Really? Do you really know how anything or anyone should be…?
The purpose here is to notice and question yourself, even if you are unwilling to get off your position. Have a go and see what happens.
When you keep your position going, you keep the conflict going.
Come and explore how to transform your conflicts, in a warm and welcoming environment, and get focused on how to break the cycle. Join me for an FREE online taster session for the Transforming Conflict course that I’m teaching at the end of January. This is a FREE online taster on Tuesday 19th January 10:30-12:30pm.
I’d love to see you there!
FREE tickets here: Book FREE Online Taster for Transforming Conflict