Here’s a truth about me: I’m a conflict avoider. Through and through. Since I was a little kid, I’d run into the other room if I heard an argument.
I wanted to put a big conflict avoidance bubble around me and make them all go away, but they still happened. And continue to happen.
I must say though, I’m so much better than I use to be – not in creating a conflict avoidance bubble :-), but in letting go of passive aggressive tendencies (I could teach a course on this).
Spending a week with my family was a great reminder of how far I’ve come, and we’ve all come in this regard. We’re all working on it and it’s much easier now.
It was also a great reminder of a tool I learned to resolve conflicts many years ago when I was guiding in the mountains, working with the same 1 or 2 people for 30 days straight, 24/7. It was inevitable conflicts would arise and this tool helped me out many times.
Conflict is the opposition of perspective or opinions. The tool I share below bridges the gap between the opinions to find common ground.
Conflict resolution is most effective when done in person through conversation. Body language plays a big role as well as eye contact.
I also think about this quote before using this tool:
“The Buddha didn’t actually teach Buddhism…he taught the way of human understanding.”
You’ll see why in a minute.
4 Steps to Resolving Conflict (the acronym is called VOMP)
1. Ventilate. This is the chance for you and the other person to share what is bothering you. It is helpful to start with something kind first like, “Our relationship means a lot to me.” or “I love you and want to understand you better.” Then use the template of “I feel ___________, when you ___________. This takes the conversation away from blaming or pointing fingers into expressing how their actions, words, or in-actions affected you.
2. Ownership. Take ownership for your part in the conflict. It takes two people to have a conflict. When it is one person venting or speaking their truth without this step, it puts the receiver on the defensive. This is where the human understanding begins to unfold.
3. Moccasins. Put yourself in the other persons shoes. The second part of understanding. This is huge. This can lead to forgiveness. Really do your best to understand where the person is coming from. This greatly softens defensiveness and opinions. Get curious, ask questions. Paraphrasing can be helpful here like, “What I’m hearing you say is…” This will help the other person feel heard and validated in their perspective.
4. Plan. Make a plan for your relationship and communication in moving forward. How do you want to handle this together if the situation arises again? How can you better understand the other person? What style of communication works best for you? For them? State what is helpful to you and listen to what they are asking for so you’re on the same page.
I can’t say I’m perfect with this yet, but I’ve come a long way.
It takes me some time to process the conflict, calm down, and then approach with a more open mind. It doesn’t always go in this order, and it doesn’t always get resolved, but with an intention to have harmony in my heart, it motivates me to take the steps.
When a conflict is resolved and feels truly resolved for both people in the conflict, it can actually be an event that draws you closer together, because the level of understanding of the other person has deepened.
I wish this for all of us.
Categories: Conflict & Forgiveness