It might seem strange to use the words ‘grateful’ and ‘conflict’ in the same sentence. However, when it comes to interpersonal conflicts there is reason to consider what actually engenders or could engender feelings of thankfulness.
You may be asking in a mystified way, “Like what?”
It is often the case that what the other person defends in anger during a conflict reflects an issue that is very important to them and there is something to be learned by hearing what that is about. We may discover a value or belief she or he has that is meaningful and relevant to the conflict. It may be something she or he needs from us that is significant to consider. Maybe we discover a sensibility that explains what is driving the related emotions. These insights work both ways and what we hear ourselves defend is important for our own self-awareness and for the other person’s increased understanding of us.
Any of these awarenesses about ourselves – or the other person – is something to be grateful for. This is for a number of reasons, including that ultimately, if the relationship is ongoing, we and those with whom we have conflicts can greatly benefit from learning and understanding more about each other. These are just a few reasons to be grateful for some conflicts.
The following series of questions are best answered when you bring to mind an interpersonal dispute you are currently involved in about which feeling grateful may not have occurred to you.
- What is the situation? What is most important to you about the conflict?
- Why is that important to you (your answer to the previous question)?
- What do you think is most important to the other person about the situation?
- Why do you suppose that is (your answer to the previous question)?
- What emotions are you experiencing about this incident? What, if anything, is unclear to you about why those emotions have surfaced?
- What values, beliefs and/or needs do you perceive are being undermined?
- What emotions are you aware of that the other person is experiencing? What values, beliefs and/or needs might she or he perceive you are undermining? What else may be driving the emotions in her or him?
- What are you learning so far, as you think this out, that reflects some things for you to be grateful for regarding the conflict and/or the other person? What (else) would you like to feel grateful for regarding the conflict and the other person?
- What difference do you think it makes if you feel a sense of gratefulness about the conflict and the other person?
- What might the other person be grateful to know about you and the conflict? What difference might that make for her or him? For you?
- What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
- What insights do you have?