The Best Conflict Resolution Techniques Are Based on Love
“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” ~ Thomas Merton
At sea, mutiny can endanger lives because while fighting, the sailors are distracted from their destination. They can’t see the storm on the horizon, the pirate ship approaching, or the iceberg beneath the surface. The ship, and all lives upon it, could be lost if conflict resolution techniques and a cohesive team spirit aren’t maintained. When your life depends on those around you, you long for a strong bond of respect and trust and even better, one of love.
Since we’re taught to question authority, to stand up for our rights, to be in control of our own destinies, maintaining a balance between self-determination and interdependence can be hard. Being in control isn’t what makes conflict resolution techniques work. Fighting for control is counterproductive. It distracts you from what’s really important.
Whether in the boardroom or in the family, there has to be a division of labor and a chain of command. There also has to be a common goal that all are working towards. The best teams are flexible — while the captain sleeps, the chief officer mans the helm. But when push comes to shove, they know who to look to for guidance.
Does this make other members of the team less valuable? Just the opposite. It showcases the expertise of each member in any given situation. It could be the sailor who shimmies up the mast who saves the day, not the captain.
10 conflict resolution techniques and tools to help you succeed
You can love someone, even when you don’t like them. Love, in this sense, means being deeply committed and connected to someone. With that in mind, think about how you can use these 10 conflict resolution techniques…
1. Take the high road. When you know your values, you can hold yourself to the highest version of yourself at all times. This keeps you from being sucked into petty squabbles. And you’ll be able to stop yourself from projecting your insecurities onto others.
A daily practice of self-love makes it possible to love others.
2. Keep the destination in view. For a family, the destination could be enjoying each other and maintaining peace. For a business, this could mean production of a product or service. Keeping the end goal in mind takes the focus off of you. You can rein in your pride for the common good.
A practice of course-correction is useful here.
3. Embrace, not avoid, conflict. Every disagreement is an opportunity to discover each other more deeply. As Carl Jung said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” Do you hate confrontation? Would you rather give away a part of you, to maintain peace? Conflict resolution techniques are not about acquiescence or becoming subservient. They require give and take, so each party is truly heard and appreciated.
A practice of good communication is the tool to use here. After all, a mutinous silence only adds to the problem.
A practice of mindfulness is an essential tool for this.
5. Take time to cool down. Be honest and say, “I want to resolve this conflict, but I need a few moments to cool down, so I can hear you better. Can we talk about this again later tonight?”
A practice of emotional triage will help you take a step back to assess, regroup and move forward.
6. Own your part. We mistakenly think we’ll feel better when we blame others. But that “win” is bought at the cost of putting another person down. Is that the kind of win you want? Think it through before you speak.
A practice of forgiveness is beneficial at this step.
7. Set boundaries beforehand — agree to speak to each other with respect. Yelling, screaming, belittling, bringing up past “sins” or using sarcasm do nothing to heal the rift. These things diminish your ability to restrain yourself…you’ll do or say something you’ll regret.
A practice of always speaking positivity is helpful here.
8. Never threaten. Threatening to quit a relationship puts you in the position of having to follow through with it. It breeds uncertainty, distrust and fear in the other party. Whereas, an attitude of “I’m in this with you through thick and thin” instills confidence and engages your problem-solving skills.
A practice of patience will help you act with purpose.
9. Be open and vulnerable, not prideful. We instinctively protect the vulnerable, so being vulnerable is tapping into this natural response. It softens a harsh situation. No, you don’t have to reveal all to your boss, but you’ll want to with your mate. Drop your defenses and say, “I’m feeling scared about where this fight will lead us.”
Practice being vulnerable when the stakes aren’t so high and build your vulnerability muscle.
10. Be determined to keep your commitment. Actively look for ways to repair any damage done, through deep listening and letting the other person be themselves. I like how George Eliot put it, “The intense happiness of our union is derived in a high degree from the perfect freedom with which we each follow and declare our own impressions.”
Compassionate listening is invaluable!
When we stop fighting to control a situation, but rather keep the destination in mind, we’ll find ways to work together, to communicate effectively. Life is not all smooth sailing, but when you use these conflict resolution techniques, you’ll make your journey more fulfilling. If you’ve enjoyed this article, I invite you to sign up for my Neways News and get a monthly roundup of all my new posts.