I was having a conversation with a client about the value that a little bit of conflict can bring to a situation between two people. If we avoid all conflict, none of the difficult conversations necessary for progress will ever happen. If we are too angry and aggressive, then we will be met with defensiveness and the other side might just “shut down”. Here are some simple, though not necessarily easy, steps to transform a confrontation into a care-frontation:
Be humble. Be courageous. Be strong. Take the first step by deciding to have the necessary, difficult conversation.
Attack the problem, not the person. The goal isn’t to be right; the goal is to get it right.
When in doubt, just do it. Conflicts delayed and deferred make little things grow into big things.
Pick a time and a place when you are not emotionally aggravated, and the other person is available.
Use “I” statements that honestly and respectfully express your thoughts and feelings while also being solution-centered and clarify the goal or expectation (e.g., I think ___ because…, I feel ___ because…, I intend to ___ because…).
Avoid “You” statements that blame, insult, or attack the personality and/or character of others. “You” statements divide, distract, and disrespect. They sound like “You never…, You always…, You should have…, You won’t…, You don’t…”
Seek win-win solutions by clearly expressing your needs (I want…), their needs (You want…), and then work together to find creative solutions that satisfy both (We could…).
Conflict is inevitable and is an essential part of goal achievement and human interaction. It takes resilience and endurance to turn confrontations into care-frontations. Once you make that breakthrough, you’ll begin to realize how valuable these conversations can be for you and others.
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