Sometimes the best fix for behavior problems isn’t to address the behavior itself. Sometimes the most effective solution is to change the situation. Situation problems can cause behavior problems, and unless you know how to tell the difference, you can waste a whole lot of energy trying to get someone to change.
It’s not news that understanding the other person’s key interests is a crucial skill for your negotiation skills toolbox. I knew that when I went into the contract negotiation in the following story…and I almost blew it anyway. It took a question born out of desperation to teach me that some interests can be elusive, surprising, and even downright unbelievable.
Are you in a career where the ability to show empathy is important? New research suggests that how you arrive at empathy is as important as being empathetic. And that old adage about developing empathy by walking a mile in their shoes may actually increase your burnout potential.
The way you deliver feedback can make the difference between instant defensiveness and thoughtful consideration. One way to reduce immediate push-back is to “make it behavioral.” Here’s how to give feedback that’s behavioral and examples to translate the idea into words.
Conflict resolution skills alone will only get you so far. How well you use those skills depends on your mindset and the habits you cultivate in yourself. Here are five game-changing conflict resolution habits that will help you use your skills optimally.
We put people, places, things, and ideas into categories. Categories help us navigate the world and it’s natural to categorize. We categorize in conflict, too. But the tension of conflict increases the chances we’ll make category errors — and category errors can really get in the way of conflict resolution.
One reason conflict can undermine self-control is that stress compromises our brains’ emotion-regulation circuitry. But all is not lost when we’ve been emotionally hijacked. Recent research offers a new tool for regaining self-control soon after the stress of an argument: Briefly reminiscing about a happy memory.
When someone is upset, one familiar response is to ignore it and forge ahead. Another is to try to make them feel better with kind reassurance. Both of these approaches are a version of “make it go away.” There’s a third, more fruitful approach: Help them delve into it.
A win-win solution is optimal in so many negotiation and conflict situations at work and home. But what do you do if that win-win solution isn’t obvious?
If you believe someone is aggressive, could they behave more aggressively with you than with others? If someone believes you are a hostile person, are you likely to act more hostile when you interact with them? Yes. It’s called behavioral confirmation and if you’re interested in your own or others’ conflict behavior, it’s worth understanding.
Sweeping important conflict under the rug doesn’t make it go away. We know this, even as we continue to do it. Hidden so we don’t have to look it in the eye, the conflict still draws our attention and increases our frustration.
Once upon a time there was a rug merchant who saw that his most beautiful carpet had a curious bump in the center.
Mindful of the carpet’s value, he carefully tiptoed over to the bump and pressed on it gently with his foot. He succeeded in flattening it out.
But the bump reappeared in a new spot.
The rug merchant walked over to the new location and jumped on the bump. Once again, it disappeared for a moment and then reappeared elsewhere.
Again and again the rug merchant jumped on the bump, flattening it briefly only to have it appear in a new location. Of course, he’d lost all patience and failed to take care with the beautiful carpet, which was now scuffed and mangled from all the stomping and jumping.
Finally, he lifted a corner of the carpet to peak underneath. An angry snake slithered out and away, relieved, no doubt, finally to be released.
Important conflict doesn’t disappear when swept under the rug. It only disappears from view. But it’s there, lurking, moving, drawing our attention while we’re trying to do other things, just like the snake in this story I adapted slightly from the original by Peter Senge.
Sweeping important matters under the rug gives us only temporary relief. And what we do in the name of efficiency, or fear, or avoidance eats away at so much of our lives over the long run.
So much for efficiency.
If 21 minutes of your time could make the difference between a marriage that’s crumbling and a marriage that grows stronger, would you do it? Hell, yeah. The following research-based writing activity can have a remarkably powerful impact on marital conflict. It’s free. It’s simple. And you don’t need anyone’s help to do it.