Common Questions About Conflict
In my workshops and coaching, I’m often asked about how to resolve specific conflicts. Especially now that more workshops are happening on Zoom, the questions that appear in “Chat” will often have similar themes. Two themes that appear frequently are ones around new relationships and others around “letting go.”
Judy — How do I talk with someone I’m in a NEW relationship with, when they’re basing the current experience on old relationships and ways of communicating?
This question contains its own answer, and often that’s the case. The questioner is clear about their positive intent and what they want to talk about: They want to strengthen the relationship and to that end they would like to bring up a concern.
If it’s a love relationship, you might start with “I love you and want to see us and our relationship grow, and that’s my purpose in bringing up this topic.” In this case, I’d start with advocacy — my message — what I want to bring up, as in, “It seems to me that …” and then tell your story, from your point of view. What do you see that the other is missing?
Then go into inquiry, as in, “That’s how things look for me, and perhaps you see it differently. I’d love to hear your thoughts.” Remember to acknowledge all you hear and build on that. Ask more questions and allow your conflict partner to fully express themselves. Keep asking open, curiosity-based questions. The last one might be, “Is there anything else I should know?” If their answer is “No, I think that’s it,” you can begin to build solutions together and possibly some new communication practices.
When Is the Right Time to Let Go?
How do we determine when the situation is not going to be resolved — when is the right time to let go?
This is a question to live with, isn’t it? Many conflicts are with ourselves, at least at first. When this happens, I look for ways to clarify within myself what it is that needs resolving, staying curious, appreciating positive intention, continuing to learn from my experience, and trying various routes to resolution — asking useful questions, testing the waters to see if my conflict partner is as interested in resolution as I am, and observing myself and my emotions throughout these interactions.
I am kind to myself as I determine whether to let go or keep trying. I may stop for a while, give up, notice how I feel about this decision, let some time go by, and maybe try again, until I know the answer. Centering brings the heart and head together, so when there’s a discrepancy between them, center yourself and listen.
Answers and Resources
Remember that each moment offers an opportunity to breathe, center, and be here now. Please also remember you can visit JudyRinger.com anytime. On the “Resources” page, you’ll find articles about similar topics, and the “Blog” page has even more content.
Lastly, this link will take you to the Introduction and first chapter of my 2019 book, Turn Enemies Into Allies: The Art of Peace in the Workplace.