A simple, effective approach to conflict resolution.
Do you like arguing? I don’t. I think it is the lowest form of communication. Because it is not really communication at all. Arguing is like being in a boxing match. Because in an argument you hurl your point of view at another person, then defend yourself from their response. If your aim is to win an argument you’re fighting a losing battle.
What we should be doing is discussing to understand. We should demonstrate that we are listening and hear each other. It is the best way to make friends, build stronger relationships, earn trust, and become more likable.
Conflict Resolution Technique
My wife, Dawn and I learned about a great conflict resolution technique early in our marriage. We were watching an Oprah special on relationships, and a guest on the show introduced a technique to help couples come to a mutual understanding. Dawn and I intuitively understood why this was such a smart technique. We began using this when we needed to resolve an issue. I expect this technique is pretty standard in couples counseling. But we haven’t been to counseling. We just watch Oprah together.
The 4 Steps
Try these simple steps the next time you find yourself in an argument, disagreement, dispute or any other word the thesaurus says you can substitute for conflict.
- The 1st person speaks, uninterrupted, until they have said everything they have to say.
- The 2nd person plays back what they heard, to show that they listened and understand the 1st person’s position.
- The 2nd person then speaks, uninterrupted, until they have said everything they have to say.
- The 1st person plays back what they heard, to show that they listened and understand the 2nd person’s position.
Through this process, everyone gets to say all they want to say. Even better, everyone has their feelings and perspectives acknowledged. At the end of the day, this is all we really want. Once we know that we have said what we want to say, and have been both heard and understood, we can stop arguing our point.
I use this approach in my personal relationships. But I also use this technique in my professional relationship with clients, coworkers and vendors. It is the best way I know to resolve a dispute or misunderstanding. It shows that you care. It improves customer service. And it can save you significant money in lost revenue, lawyers fees and alcohol therapy.
No one wins arguments. We win through understanding. Listening without interruption is one of the greatest gifts we can offer each other. Being heard and understood is more enjoyable than being fed grapes while being fanned. Try this simple technique the next time you find yourself in a conflict. You’ll see that everyone comes out ahead, when you stop arguing like a behind.