FOUR SIMPLE, MINDFUL STEPS TO MANAGING CONFLICT WITH GRACE
Well, I guess you know that feeling: there is this one thing, that that person always does, it annoys you so much, but you just don't know how to address it. There is that one detail, that drives you crazy, but you could never find the right moment and words to speak it out loud – or even worse, you mentioned it and the situation just exploded and it got even worse. There is a reason for all of that and an easy way out… but let me explain.
Why is it so hard to criticize or to get criticized? Maybe you can already guess it. It's about some years ago, when our brains got developed. Back then it was made to keep us safe and make us survive – and it did a damn good job. Threats of those times were, for example, an animal that want to eat us or a peer group that expels us – both scenarios could mean death for us. So we developed the instinct of fight, flight or freeze, when our body sends the signal of danger to our brain – like when we get criticized.
This works out well when we need to jump out of the way of a car, but is pretty inappropriate when it signals about psychological "danger“. When we speak about a violation of our needs of recognition, respect, belonging and love this reaction causes the opposite of what we want – stress increases when we start "fighting“ with words.
What brings relief is the connection to the other person, to let yourself be touched by their pain. Everybody can relate to that. Everyone knows how it feels to not be understood, loved or seen. Take the other person's perspective for a while and explore their needs and intentions. This shift in perception is often a turning point during an argument and opens the door for a discussion oriented to solutions and resources.
The secret is to not trigger the "survival-mode“ of the other person. How do you do that? By not attacking them verbally, but speaking about wishes and non-judgmental observations. The nonviolent communication of Marshall Rosenberg is a very useful tool to practice it. It requires an attitude of sincerity, compassionate understanding and the honest will of making things better and reduce suffering – and I know you can do that ??. Here are the four steps to give you a guideline:
- Tell the other person what you are observing – free from judgement, interpretation and accusation. What I mean is something like "I see that you never carry the team's stuff to the training gym“ instead of "You are so arrogant. Is it too much for you to carry the team's stuff? If you think, you are the princess of the team, we don't need you here“.
- Tell the other person how that makes you feel. IMPORTANT - the sentence starts with an "I“. It could be: "I feel angry about it“ instead of "You make me so angry“. Can you feel the different energy of those sentences with just a little difference in wording? Say it out loud if not.
- Tell what you need. "As a team captain I feel responsible for each of us and I wish the tasks could be distributed equally between us. I would feel more calm and at ease knowing that every team member takes its role seriously, which also includes the team duties.“
- And then you give a suggestion about the implementation of how the other person could meet your need. For example: "Please carry the medicine bag from and to the practice, there's nobody feeling responsible for that“.
And that's it. Try it out, it's worth it. Practice it for a while until it‘s part of your communication routine and witness the shift in your relationships and the melting of arguments.
What's useful to understand at this point is that a conflict starts when the needs of one, two or more parties are not met and they suffer from it. They have difficulties to let the other party know in a way that is accepted and understood. Not more and not less. It's time to look behind the curtain.
You can see communication in a way of meditation in action. Use your words gracefully, as a tool to bring harmony, benevolence and compassion into this world.
I'm looking forward to read or hear your comments and thoughts about it.
Have a great day,