And Now I Have Become the Most Wonderful Conflict Resolver Ever

I’m off to broker peace in the Middle East.

Ha ha ha!

No, I’m afraid my conflict resolution course did not work that quickly.

Actually, what I learned this weekend is that I’m a really bad listener and I’m passive aggressive.  Nice!  And here I was, under the mistaken impression that I was lovely.  Bit of a blow to the ego, that was, I’m telling you right now.

So that you can benefit from my taking this class without actually taking this class yourself, here is a summary of the things I probably should have known, but apparently needed to hear anyway:

  • When someone is talking to you, you should not be planning your response in your head.  You should be listening all the way until they finish and then respond, even if that means there are a few moments of quiet while you digest at the end.
  • When someone is talking to you, you should also not be daydreaming about other things entirely.
  • When someone is angry, you shouldn’t try to fix the problem right away.  First you need to acknowledge their feelings so they feel heard and understood.  This will help to defuse the situation and get them to lower their defensive shields.  Then you should get more information from them on why they are upset and what they think they need.  Then you can work on solutions.  (This one is exceptionally hard and counterintuitive for me.  If someone is upset, I want to fix it.  Now.)
  • Apologizing too early will actually make things worse.  It will make people think you just want them to stop being emotional at you and go away.
  • When you are being assertive, your statements should all be “I” statements, focusing on what you need or are feeling (And don’t try the “I’m feeling this because you that” either, because that’s not really an I statement.)  They should not involve labeling or judgement or focus on anyone else.
  • When you perceive jerkiness in others, sarcasm is never the answer.

There was more to it, but those were the bits that I felt I most needed to focus on.  Honestly, it’s really hard to be given concrete evidence that not only are you not perfect, you are deeply flawed at something you thought you weren’t bad at.  Oh well.  Always good to have a goal, I suppose.

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10 thoughts on “And Now I Have Become the Most Wonderful Conflict Resolver Ever

  1. Thanks for sharing, Stephanie. I especially need to work on that point: “First you need to acknowledge their feelings so they feel heard and understood.” I really appreciate when people do it for me so i should also work on it.

    What makes conflict resolution so difficult for me is how emotional I get. It’s hard to step back and see things clearly and objectively when you feel angry or hurt. So the best advice i came across on the topic was not to react too fast. Not to snap back or enter an argument, simply wait until I calm down and then take the time to resolve the conflict.

    • Your comment interests me, because getting emotional generally isn’t my problem. It’s more that I get stressed at other people’s emotions.

      While in some ways (no assignments or exams) this class was really easy, I realized that these were really hard skills we were working on. It was very humbling to me.

  2. I think many of us are challenged in a time of distractions – whether electronic, financial or simply due to the chaos that is civilization. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not the perfect listener. I find it’s a process which improves with age 😉

    • This is more or less what my boss told me when I gave her my conclusions about myself from the class. (Did I mention I took this class with my two immediate bosses?) She said I’m a perfectionist and should focus on the 80% of the skills I was doing well instead of the 20% I wasn’t.

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