If you’ve ever had any kind of training in how to get along with others, you were probably taught some basic tactics to apply when attempting to resolve an issue. Most of the time, what you know works; and thank goodness the strategies are universal and fit just about any situation. When things go well it’s great, but every once in a while you may find yourself a little perplexed when you try to apply what you were taught and your efforts fail. Three of the most basic conflict resolution approaches don’t always work and may require a bit more effort on your part to achieve success.
Listening. Simply remaining quiet while the other person blathers on about the situation might not get you any closer to resolution. Nor does artfully repeating what you’ve heard. I know that it’s Communication 101 to do those things but unless you understand the purpose and have the wherewithal to do something with the information you’re receiving, you look insincere and run the risk of making the conflict worse. Plus, letting people go on and on and around and around repeating themselves can keep you stuck on a dizzying rollercoaster ride.
At some point you may need to ask the speaker what it will take for her to know that you’ve heard, understood, and are considering her point of view. Saying that you’d like for her not to have repeat herself is a good way for her to get the message that she’s, well, repeating herself.
Being Empathetic. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes doesn’t work if you really can’t empathize with how he’s feeling. When you don’t share a background, you don’t share a world perspective, or you simply don’t get where they’re coming from, you may end up putting your own spin on how you think they should feel, react, or behave. And, that’s rarely a good thing.
Instead, you may want to be honest that you understand there are different approaches to every situation and that maybe the two of you are just too far apart on this one. Move the discussion to talking about what you do have in common or how you can approach future situations in which your perspectives span the Grand Canyon.
Compromise. Splitting things down the middle is often the starting place with compromise. It’s a great way to resolve things when you’re buying a used car, but not so much when it comes to time with the kids or recognition for work product.
Redefine what it means it to compromise. Let go of the “you give a little, I give a little” definition and look at the bigger picture. Sometimes where we need to compromise most is with our own expectations of others.