Prevent Harm: Conflict First Aid 2
The aim of conflict first aid is to protect what is important, prevent harm and promote restoration of relationships. As in medical first aid, there are simple steps that anyone can do to make sure the situation doesn’t deteriorate. My last blog gave 3 tips on how to protect what is important. Those of you who have done first aid training know that as well as protecting life, you need to ensure that you prevent harm. So, this blog gives tips on how to prevent things getting worse.
Before I give you new tips, I want to stress the importance of pausing. Whether it is an accident on the motorway or a conflict, fools rush in while wise people pause. Stopping to assess the situation, not just at the beginning, but also each time you speak can prevent damage. Pause, assess and remember
Three things that never come back: the spent arrow; the spoken word; the lost opportunity.
Willam George Plunkett
Three Tips to Prevent Harm
1. Control your emotions
When we feel threatened, frightened or angry, our primitive instincts kick in and logic flies out the window. Don’t deny your feelings, for that will add to your stress. Take a moment to notice what you are feeling. Acknowledge and name that feeling. (Research shows that this initiates a calming effect that helps us become more logical) Now you have a choice about whether to act out that feeling or whether there might be a different solution. Our emotions come from the stories we tell ourselves about events–for example if someone ignores me and I tell myself they didn’t hear me, I am not emotional. If they ignore me and I interpret this as a snub, I feel hurt and angry. Take a moment to pause, breathe and calm yourself. Or say, I need some time to think this through and can’t do it properly now. When is a good time to talk?
Listening can stop you making the situation worse. Listening can help you find the truth, the solutions and the explanation. Ask for the other person’s point of view and really listen. It’s like magic. Don’t judge, don’t assume, just listen. As a mediator, I have seen powerful changes and shifts in relationships when people learn to listen.
When you talk you are only repeating what you know; when you listen, you learn something new.
3.Aim for mutual benefit
If the other person believes that you have common goals or that you want what’s best for both parties, there is less likelihood of the situation deteriorating. So think about what you can do to make life easier for both of you. Remove blame--the problem is not the other person, it is the unmet needs on both sides. Think about solutions that allow needs to be met in different ways. Acknowledge how much the conflict damages both your interests. Stop trying to discredit the other person or undermine them and start thinking about how to work together.
Yes, I know, it’s all very easy on paper, but not so much when you try and put it into practice. If you need more help, just get in touch.