Most Human Conflicts Can Be Solved
“I remain convinced that most human conflicts can be solved through genuine dialogue conducted with a spirit of openness and reconciliation” His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Seems an amazing thing to say…until you start thinking about conflicts. Think of history, your own family, work…how much conflict could have been avoid with a bit more thoughtfulness and a spirit of seeking first to understand… A book that really opened my eyes to the importance of dialogue is Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High (Patterson, Grenny, Swiltzer ,McMillan).
How can conflict be reduced?
The team studied people who were good at maintaining dialogue under stress, identified what they did differently, and translated it into practical steps. Crucial Conversations highlights how important it is to get your stories straight before you start a conversation. One of their other books, Crucial Confrontations gives tips as to how to use these crucial skills in resolving conflict .
Is the story you tell yourself about the person’s behaviour really true? We judge other people’s actions by their behaviour, but our own by our intentions. Ask yourself “Why would a sane, normal person behave that way?” It might help you control your emotions and think of better ways to resolve conflict.
The first thought we all have when we start reading a book like this is “My boss/partner/spouse should read this…” but as the team point out, we cannot change others behaviour except by altering our behaviour towards them.
Gandhi said ” As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”
This is particularly true in conflict conversations. If our own attitude is angry, defensive or aggressive, that will trigger a response in others. It then becomes a vicious spiral. Take some time out to consider how your behaviour and attitude may seem to the other person
So take some time before an important conversation to think about what really happened, what is important, what you both want and what you can do to work toward this.