“friends may come and go but enemies accumulate”
In a conflict scenario and want to resolve it? The best start point is often yourself. Why? because in many conflict scenarios all the parties involved have some level of contribution to the conflict in hand and will definitely all have a contribution to its resolution. So if your in conflict and place the full blame and resolution onto the other person, high chance the conflict will live on.
The story of conflict
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity!”
Getting your “story” right first is a critical foundation; as how you view the conflict will greatly influence how you approach resolution.
What this “jokey” quote is alerting us too is not to assume negative intent on the part of the other person until you have really found this out. Because you feel hurt/angry/embarrassed does not automatically mean that the other person intended that to be the impact on you. See them as a person first before labeling them as an enemy.
As soon as we label someone’s behaviour as attack the most primitive part of our being comes alive and we prepare “fight or flight” response. We are poised to attack or defend. Our adrenaline is pumping and we have energy. It is worth recognising the heightened state you are in because this is not the state where our best thinking takes place. Change this state or be very conscious that entering into dialogue with the other person when highly aroused may be counter productive to the end result you are after.
Trapped in truth
“my opinions may have changed but not the fact that I am right”
The fundamental belief that we are right and our views are the truth – clearly places the other person in the wrong. A more productive start point is to acknowledge that your truth is true for you but that there is rarely one truth and that the other person will equally be holding onto their truth. Rather that battle out whose truth is right (no one wins on this type of battle and it can be a hindrance to conflict resolution) instead focus the debate on the underlying interests and needs of everyone involved in the conflict.
The Innocent bystander syndrome
When in conflict the part we like to attribute to ourselves is often that of an innocent passive recipient of wrong doings. Given that conflicts between people are about interactions between people it will be a rare conflict where on party is totally in the wrong and another totally in the right. So be honest about your contribution and how your behaviour fuelled the conflict or helped sustain it.
All the conflict skills out there will not help you truly resolve conflict unless you are prepared to
- Change the way you view conflict
- Place the focus on your skills, behaviour and perceptions not on judging the other person