Solving conflicts, getting freedom

conflictYes, freedom.

From me, freedom comes from inside, from one single piece of mindset:

The lack of need to prove. Anything.

Imagine yourself in the most free moment of your life. You were probably pretty happy back then. And you were not tied to anything. Because, you know what? When you’re driving yourself to prove something, you give that thing (or person) power over you. You tie yourself to them, without realizing it.

One of the first things I learned when training to be a coach was to suspend my judgment. It’s damn hard to do, because we’re used to stereotypes, placing labels and somehow wanting to squeeze everyone in our narrow frame of mind. But, somewhere along the line, by striving not to judge others, to give them the ok-ness of their own frame, I also became free-er. I’m saying free-er, because, well, I think we’re never quite fully free. If you are, please drop me an email – I might want to take an apprenticeship.

So I’m surprised when I see people not wanting to let go of their frame of reference. For example, letting go of judgment helps tremendously in case of conflicts. I should know, I have a talent of arguing with people I love most.

So, how does suspending judgment work, in anger/conflict management?

1. Drop the need to prove.

You can’t get at ease with the other person(s) if you retain the need to prove – the anger will stick to that.
The underlying purpose needs to be that of understanding. No, not the “Ok, we’ll get into agreement and THEN I’ll show him/her”. No,  the question here is “What do we BOTH want?”

2. Use “I feel” sentences.

I’m sure you’ve heard this many times before, but probably it’s because it really works. The moment you say “I feel…”, the other person can hardly contradict you.
You probably are upset and want to show to the other person exactly how much he/she hurt you. You probably want to make him/her feel the same, or worse. But for now, stick with the first one.

3. Listen.

Remember the point above? If so, the other person might want to talk as well. If you’re making a case of exposing your anger, you’re not respecting the first point – suspending judgment. We just agreed that it’s not about making your point – it’s not about PROVING anything. It’s about getting to a common ground.

4. Agree on your mistakes. Be humble.

If you got this far, you probably really want to make things work. Listen for reproaches, listen for things you may have done wrong. Acknowledge the facts and know when to say “I’m sorry.” Sometimes, this will be enough.
Most times, though, not.

5. Seek for improvement.

Ask the other person how you can improve – sometimes, the reason for anger is a subtle one – such as the perceived lack of attention. Set boundaries and roles: “Ok, I’m going to take the garbage out each morning, and you bring me flowers every week.”

From experience, the listening part works best…and is the most damn hard thing to do. We’re too used to wanting to make our point, to think that our view is the most important.

When we should remember why we have two ears and just one mouth.

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  • Walter
    September 15, 2010

    Being judgmental is a human characteristic. Unless we become aware of this propensity, we could never really solve any conflict. In the first place, being judgmental means being deaf. :-)

  • Maria
    September 20, 2010

    Thanks Walter! Yes, realizing that our paradigms shape us more than we think, that’s a big mindset change.

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