Finding compassion for another person we are in conflict with, understanding their issues, perspective, and struggles are valuable tools in resolving issues. But, offering compassion to ourselves can be equally important in dealing successfully with conflict and difficult people.
One challenge for myself and my clients in resolving disagreements is what to do if someone hurts my feelings, but denies any responsibility for it.
Marshall Rosenberg pointed out that we can give ourselves compassion—immediately—and take care of ourselves, even if the other person in the disagreement can’t give us the support or acknowledgement we want in that moment.
Mediators often model how to validating feelings as we listen actively to both parties, but this tool allows us all to honor our own feelings. Offering ourselves this gift helps us remember that feelings aren’t and don’t have to be logical: they are always valid, and we can love ourselves through them. Then, we can detach enough to separate feelings from facts. When we do this, we are less likely to try to prove we’re right and the other person wrong, a dangerous move in any conflict resolution process
I have used this technique myself and shared it with coaching clients, who have found it comforting and valuable. Although it is a form of first aid, it is more than just a band-aid. We become “first responders” to our emotional emergency, staunching the flow of a “bleeding” wound that takes energy and attention from the necessary conversation.
So next time you’re in a difficult interaction, and the other person doesn’t quite get why you are having an intense reaction to their words, you can reach for emergency self compassion in your emotional “first aid” kit and feel better.
She is a consultant and trainer for County of Sonoma. And, at Sonoma State University, she is the curriculum designer and lead teacher for the new Conflict Management Certificate program. Ms. Segal was recently named one of the top 30 Conflict Resolution experts to follow on LinkedIn. She is also a contributing author to the forthcoming book, Stand Up, Speak Out Against Workplace Bullying.