Is there ANY day that passes without a crisis?
Our life today feels out of control. Emotions such as anger and frustration can take anyone over in an instant. Unresolved emotions feed nearly all conflict. Stepping out of truth undermines resolution and fuels more conflict. Conflicts become crises when we ignore emotions and step out of our truth.
Life isn’t about avoiding or denying conflict. So, what’s the most powerful thing we can do? We can learn how to deal with conflict quickly, consciously, effectively and truthfully. We can learn intelligent responses to conflict, rather than reacting. We can decide to take actions that lead to peaceful solutions. We can feed our own power to resolve conflicts.
Building our powerful skills to resolve and avert crises takes three steps:
1) Becoming aware of our emotions
2) Seeking the truth
3) Creating peaceful solutions
Becoming Aware of Our Emotions
We can gain the tools for naming and taming our emotions. All day long we experience feelings that create emotions. Our heart sends messages to our brain constantly, leading to physiological changes moment to moment directly tied to our emotions. Some emotions cause us to feel depleted or weak. Other emotions have the opposite affect, renewing or strengthening us. If we are unable to identify the source and how to move out of depleting emotions, conflict is sure to follow.
Choosing to leave a depleting emotion to get back to a neutral space immediately and sustainably moves us through and out of conflict. Even better, we can choose to move to an opposite renewing emotion and blast right out of conflict. Knowledge about our emotions is power.
Seeking the Truth
Being truthful allows repeated conflicts to end. Knowing our strengths and weaknesses with speaking our truth gives us immediate access to find more of the truth of any situation. Everything begins with understanding our part of a conflict, our part of a missing truth and our part of any resolution. Too often, we begin looking to every one but ourselves to find cause, blame and judge. Looking at others merely masks the truth and moves us farther away from where we should be seeking answers. One thing is sure: if we are embroiled in any conflict, we had a part in making it happen.
Five elements of truth must be explored in order to start resolution. These five elements when clearly understood open our perception to the truth behind the words being spoken. When we find our self in conflict, feel conflict or are reviewing past conflicts, solutions unimagined before emerge when we are honest about these questions.
- Where do I live my truth the strongest?
- Where am I the weakest in living truthfully?
- How do I usually step out of my truth?
- What are my most truthful qualities?
- Do I know anyone that is a great example of living truthfully?
The more time we put into these five questions, the faster we become at checking for our truth about what any conflict is really about.
Create Peaceful Solutions
We can see patterns in the way we create conflict in our life. These patterns emerge from our mind. Our mind is an efficient engine for learning ways to get the things we want.
Our ego works hard to protect us from its perceived dangers. Obvious signs of conflict are when our fight, flight or freeze automatic mechanism is triggered. The emotions that cause a flood of biochemical reactions in our body are produced to give us the best chance of surviving an immediate threat. However, today we have little reason to react in this ancient unconscious programmed survival reaction mode to the kind of conflicts and issues present in our life.
Our behavior patterns go beyond ego and survival responses. These patterns also include unconscious beliefs and judgments that generate negative thinking. Let’s just say that “negative thinking” is the constant presence of thoughts that undermine or sabotage our success. Repeating experience-driven memories condition our thinking and responses to all situations we encounter daily. They can haunt us during restless sleep. But, these negative patterns don’t have to be our master. We can reprogram our mind to focus on new thoughts and experiences that are supportive and positive.
Patterns also exist in how we look to resolve conflicts. As we look at the conflicts we have dealt with a picture emerges of our strategy for resolving conflict. Like an impressionistic painting, all the little blots and strokes of paint add up to a picture when you observe them from a little distance. We have to become aware of how we unconsciously manage conflict. A simple model we can use to determine our default strategy to resolving conflict is called the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument.
Source: Thomas, K.W., and R.H. Kilmann
Accommodating – cooperating to a high-degree often at own expense and against own goals, objectives and intentions. This approach can be effective when the other party is the expert, has a better solution, or for preserving relationships.
Avoiding – This is simply avoiding the issue. No one’s goals are being achieved. This strategy can work when the issue is not significant, too costly for everyone or when there is no chance of winning. It’s also effective when the atmosphere is emotionally charged and you need to take a pause.
Collaborating – This is where partnering is the approach to achieve both party’s goals. This is breaking through and out of a win-lose approach to conflict, instead working for the win-win. This is where new, previously impossible solutions appear.
Competing – This is the win-lose approach prevalent today. The winners in conflict assertively and aggressively work to achieve their own goals, commonly at the expense of the other party. This approach delivers quick, decisive action at the expense of relationships or even integrity.
Compromising – This is the all lose something scenario where no one achieves what they want. Everyone has goals and this appears to be an easy way to at least meet some amount of goals. However, it leaves no room to produce a better solution that meets longer-term needs for everyone.
Once we are aware of our default strategy in the pattern of conflicts we experience at work, home or in any part of life, then we can choose to take the third step in resolving conflict in our life: empowering peaceful solutions. Peaceful solutions have at their core both the awareness of everyone involved in a conflict and the intention to keep everyone in their power. When people are in their power, they are aligned with their purpose, integrity and intentions.
A person who empowers peace is one who:
- Maintains a good sense of humor
- Maintains humbleness and humility
- Maintains integrity
- Quells the ego and stays in the heart
- Is not attached to outcome
- Is not afraid of feelings
- Does not avoid conflict
- Listens intensely
- Speaks directly and tells the truth
- Is non-judgmental
Empowering peace also includes an awareness for everyone involved by:
- Modeling self-respect and respect for others
- Having a sensitively toward the other person(s)
- Having an inclusive attitude rather than excluding others
- Allowing mistakes for self and others
We don’t have to be perfect at all or most of these attributes for empowering peaceful solutions. We simply have to become more aware of our self, our default strategy and begin modeling these empowering attributes to begin seeing previously impossible solutions more easily emerge.
Enabling a New Paradigm for Resolving Conflict
The three steps that build a new paradigm for resolving conflict are simple and deliver immediate results without needing perfection or a regimented process to follow. These steps better help to resolve or avert unnecessary crises in our lives. They have the impact of reducing stress, building our resilience and increasing harmony in a world full of conflict, chaos and uncertainty.
The choice is ours to spend a little time outside of conflicts to reduce the impact they have on our life.
~ Coach Lane Michel