Conflict seems to be a fact of life. People disagree on all sorts of issues. Some disagreements are minor and easily resolved, while others escalate into major confrontations.
People all have different experiences and temperaments. These color the way they look at life and influence their wants and needs. When two people come together to do something, almost anything, the differences can show up and create disagreement.
Why Conflict Can be So Difficult
People invest in their wants and needs. They want what they want and need what they need. Too often that is the extent of their thinking. This doesn’t leave room to consider someone else’s wants and needs. The two start speaking, perhaps using different words, and don’t develop an understanding of each other’s position. This becomes the root of conflict.
Any time you find yourself disagreeing with someone, remind yourself that the other person has wants and needs they want met—just like you. This is especially important if it is serious and escalating. Instead of arguing, take a few minutes to identify your needs and learn theirs. A phrase I find useful is, “Help me to understand….” When both of you clearly understand both positions, you can discover, together, a mutually agreeable solution to your conflict.
This sounds easy, but it can be challenging.
One reason is we often don’t ask ourselves why we want or need something. If we cannot articulate why we are intent on our own position, we cannot expect the other person to understand what we want to achieve.
Another reason is that we frequently fail to take the time to understand the other person’s position. This doesn’t have to take long but it is essential. When you can articulate the other’s wants and needs to their satisfaction, they feel heard. They, of course, then articulate your needs to your satisfaction. This opens the door to a more collaborative, more satisfying resolution. It also minimizes the stress, anger and potential violence of the conflict. It can als protect the relationship.
What does this have to do with respect?
It is important to always respect yourself and others. Remember, they are as deserving as you are. If you cannot stand up for what you want and need in an assertive—not aggressive—way, you fail to respect yourself. Failure to honor the wants and needs of others is a failure to respect them. Aim to show respect for all.