Whether we are talking about strangers on the street, our work relationships, intimate relationships or global crises like Palestine and Israel, the same basic rules apply to get best possible outcomes. Obviously the more complex, emotional and historical the conflict the harder it will be to reach peace… AND knowing these steps, practicing them in our personal lives and getting better and better at them in intense, complex situations, the more hope we will have for a larger scale peace, collectively, in the future.
First, get clear on needs, feelings and desires, both yours and the other’s. Cultivate awareness and true understanding of the differences between the needs, feelings and desires and the similarities in the deepest needs. The more you understand the other’s needs, feelings and desires, the more you will understand their thinking and see how to best negotiate.
Second, communicate care and desire to listen. If you aren’t able to authentically cultivate feelings of compassion and care and really be committed to making sure the other person feels heard, it is best to wait until you can. When we are triggered, feeling unsafe, it is very hard for us to authentically be understanding and compassionate and very hard to be a good listener. . That is always on us, so practicing feeling feelings, being aware of those feelings, and then dealing with our own feelings in such a way as to allow us to be present as a listener and someone who is compassionate is key. This isn’t something that most people are naturally good at, so this usually takes a lot of practice and stumbling and apologizing for past short comings. Owning our side of the street is imperative to successful conflict resolution.
Third, be clear on boundaries. Just as we hold ourself to very high standards on being a good listener and being caring, we also must hold others to those same high standards. If the other party isn’t able to a good listener, making sure you feel heard, and isn’t able to seem compassionate, making you feel cared for, it is likely because they are triggered. Be compassionate and meet them there and reinforce that it is imperative that both of you feel heard and feel cared for. That has to happen before you move on to solving the practical matters at hand. Whether it was someone who cut you off in line at the grocery store or your spouse not doing what they said they would do or an international relations conflict!
Being patient and firm and mindful, without escalating the situation as you are aware if you are being triggered, is an art form. Picking your battles is an art form. There will be countless opportunities for us to practice these skills, and knowing when it is “worth it” and when it is better to “let it go” — and or when it is possible and advisable to avoid a conflict versus attempting to resolve it — it is all the art of being human.
The PRTL coaching program supports all of this work — schedule your free consult today: http://prtl.com/coaching