On an average day, I hear about conflicts amongst colleagues, friends or family at least once. Conflicts are a common trend today and should be seen as opportunities to understand one another better.
There are what I call ‘teachable moments’ within such situations that have the power to bring people closer together than ever. But there’s a crux.
You can’t see it from the inside.
If you’re stuck in the situation i.e. conflict, it takes tremendous effort to have an objective, third party, bird’s eye point of view at the situation at hand because you are involved in the conflict and you have certain things at stake.
This is why organisations hire Team Building Consultants to take a look from the outside and solve the issues at hand while at the same time, bringing the team closer together rather than further apart.
Today I’d like to share some tips and tricks to leverage on conflict
One of the most common things I notice while working with a situation of conflict between two parties are that they tend to raise their voices and it becomes impossible to listen to either party.
Why do people raise their voices when in anger?
There’s a nice story on the internet about why we tend to shout or want to raise our voices when we are in conflict.
A saint asked his disciples, ‘Why do we shout in anger? Why do people shout at each other when they are upset?’
Disciples thought for a while, one of them said, ‘Because we lose our calm, we shout for that.’
‘But, why to shout when the other person is just next to you?’ asked the saint. ‘Isn’t it possible to speak to him or her with a soft voice? Why do you shout at a person when you’re angry?’
Disciples gave some other answers but none satisfied the saint.
Finally, he explained, ‘When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other through that great distance.’
Then the saint asked, ‘What happens when two people fall in love? They don’t shout at each other but talk softly, why? Because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is very small…’
The saint continued, ‘When they love each other even more, what happens? They speak in the normal volumes, they whisper.”
You get the point.
Even if we may never be able to prove this with science, I like the story and the concept. In conflicts, there are plenty of situations where emotions run high and people are in a reactive state. They are in waiting to pounce on the other person at the first opportunity and pull their guts out and declare victory with bloody claws (or hands).
This is because they are in a state of ‘Listening to respond’. They are simply waiting to rebut on the first thing they hear that isn’t logical or appropriate. While it may feel good initially for the party to attack, it only leads to stir emotions even higher.
What we need to focus on is to ‘Listen to Understand’. That means to listen and completely put ourselves in their shoes and set out to be the role model and expect the same to be done for us.
While the concepts are all great, they are simply concepts unless they are applied. And in most situations when there are discussions on topics of conflict, there needs to be a mediating consultant to ensure things do not get out of hand.
A consultant has the responsibility to ensure objectivity and fairness in all situations. He is able to set rules such that both parties abide by the rule of ‘Listen to Understand’
Now, in the case of such conflicts where a third party is not involved, how can we still establish an environment where both parties can talk things out without things spiraling downhill?
Mauricio Estrella, contributor on Quora, mentions this technique that seems to work very well for him
Enter Mauricio Estrella
Back-against-back discussions. (Not to be confused with back to back meetings)
Most of the time, in the heat of arguing, it’s in our human nature to try to always win an argument, being completely rational or irrational. Same things happen to most of us on relationship discussions.
In my case: My girlfriend is Chinese, I’m Ecuadorian, so the cultural differences do make an impact on our peace. Quite often.
I came up with the idea of sitting (or standing) leaning my back against my GF’s back whenever a discussion heats up and we need to resolve a dispute over something.
By doing this back-against-back thing, you continue the discussion as if you were still arguing face to face. After a couple of minutes, this ALWAYS helps us to end the discussion and have a really happy outcome.
We have learned so much about ourselves and each other by doing this.
What happens is that the arguing becomes significantly more objective. You no longer have another person in front of you that you’re trying to rationalize, apologise, persuade or convince about something, instead, you’re more vulnerable because you’re talking to nobody in front of you.
Your voice resonates and you can pretty much listen to your own voice and think, “Well, I do have a point!” or maybe, “Damn, I’m full of shit, this is wrong. I am wrong.”
It used to take a couple of minutes to end the discussion for good. At the end, when you turn around, you get to face the person that you just agreed with. It’s a moment where you go ‘ah.. there she is…’ Or ‘there he is…’ and realize how beautiful a peaceful moment feels.
And a hug is all you need to signify closure
Story Source: https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-good-habits-to-follow
I recently did this with two of my friends when they were in conflict. They were bickering back and forth for a while until I told them to sit back to back, and talk one at a time.
It was amazing to watch because as they spoke to each other, back to back, there were many teachable moments that arose from that.
One friend realised that he compartmentalizes his jokes. He does not joke about topics related to Business, only areas related to personal life. He found out that he prefers to receive feedback face to face and not via text.
It was a behaviour he always did but never realised until I paraphrased it for him
My other friend realised that she hesitates to give him feedback face to face because he goes ‘Berserk’, becomes very loud and it intimidates her. She is unable to speak up to her points because he always interrupted her whenever he felt ‘she was wrong’ about something.
She always thought that because he is very loud, comments via text would not affect him as much.
It was evident. Throughout the entire discussion, the body language, the energy, the facial expressions were of two individuals ready for combat and pull off each other’s hair.
But by the end of this back to back discussion, both parties learned more not only about themselves but about the other party as well.
Which reiterates my point about conflicts.
Conflicts are healthy and can bring you closer to understanding your team members, friends or family.
Conflicts let you know that this is an opportunity to learn more about the other person in your team.
The potential to learn from conflicts are higher than from casual events and conversations over years.
The various teachable moments that arise from such conflicts, when conducted properly either alone or with a coach, can change the way you run your life, your team and your family.
There you go. Embrace Conflict. You’ll be glad you did and let me know how it went.
I really hope it helps, and please, if I’ve missed anything, I’d love to know? No one of us knows everything, right?
Thank you so much for reading my blog. I really appreciate it. If you like this, I’d love a comment, or perhaps you can tell me about the person who inspired you the most? Of course, please feel free to share with your communities, because that’s what this is all about today – creating an inclusive society. If you like my style and what I talk about, feel free to follow me on LinkedIn or on Facebook. My blog is here.
#Embrace #Conflict #Leadership #Teambuilding