How to Avoid Costly Mistakes in Conflict Resolution

All too often I hear people get frustrated when their message doesn’t get through. I feel the same way. It’s natural and human to want to be understood.

So when another person takes what you have to say and twists it, or misunderstands it, or just plain discards what you have to say, it damages our relationship of trust and can put a wedge in-between an otherwise functional and productive partnership.

So how do you get past these kinds of relationship and communication challenges?

Get out of the way

Remember that frustration comes from resisting what’s already happened. And the hardest but most direct feedback we can take is realizing and accepting that something didn’t go the way we planned. Rather than resist that, and try to ‘rectify’ it, let yourself step completely out of the way. Let it go by allowing the other person’s story to be heard. Let what wants to be expressed to express, even if it has nothing to do with what you were trying to say. This keeps the energy flowing between you.

Problems emerge when the energy flow stops. If it keeps on moving, like water, it will eventually weave it’s way to the appropriate destination. WARNING to the faint of heart: this may not be the destination you had planned. Remember—get out of the way!

Any form of resistance comes from your negative ego wanting to be right or dominate another, or save your precious dignity. The resistance is a strategy to counter information that doesn’t match our perspective or worldview. Yet all it’s good at doing is blocking progress, and at its worst, damaging relationships.

Allowing the energy to flow also helps identify the actual issue that needs to be addressed, which is probably not what you think it is. When people listen to your words, they are listening from a certain perspective or even past pain and trauma that is affecting what they are hearing.

Often, we don’t know what people are going through internally because of circumstances at home, in their relationships, with their kids, their politics, their health, the list goes on. There are so many ways that people ARE in the world, so many ways to BE: mom/dad, advisor, lover, sibling, mentor, teacher, wisdom-keeper, story-teller, artist. Take on for a moment that you have NO idea how someone is listening to you. You have NO idea what they are hearing, because you don’t know what they’re going through right now in life.

If you are surprised by a reaction you are getting, instead of trying to ‘make it right,’ try to slow down and listen. Understand where the other person is coming from before you take action. You might save yourself time by addressing the actual issue that needs to be resolved, rather than the one you think based on your own limited perspective and message.

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