Like facing your fears, conflict is another reality of life we should be dealing with head on. For us to be truly effective in dealing with conflict we should be prepared to allow the situation to show itself in its truest form. This can be scary as we're delving into the unknown. What drives someone into Fight or Flight my not be the same as your triggers, or maybe you avoid situations for fear of not being able to deal with your own conflict.
Whether you are in a partnership at home or work, dealing with kids or parents, or just end up in a face to face in a store or on the road; Conflict Management is a skill we should all practice.
I have devised the mnemonic of LOVE to help me remember the steps.
Listen to understanding, don’t interrupt, just let them rant, sometimes just doing this well enables the person to calm down. One of the tricks I learnt from my years working in a busy call centre, was to let the customer get it off their chest, don’t take it personally, even if it feels like it is.
Open wider, did you really get the whole picture? Now’s the time to ask questions. What are they not saying or are you missing? While the amygdala is triggered its difficult to focus on what's really happening, we are in full on battle mode and armoured up. Asking some probing questions to dig deeper will allow the person to refocus and reflect, calming the thoughts and seeing the bigger picture
Validate, this stage is important to keep that monkey brain in order, by saying I hear you, see you, get you, when someone is in conflict you allow their emotions to be recognised. Confirm that they are entitled to feel angry, upset, frustrated, and that you see that.
Empathise, without exception, feelings that come from conflict are exasperated if they are challenged, to show empathy for how someone is feeling doesn’t mean you must also be angry or frustrated, but that you recognise how they're feeling.
Now the conflict has changed to a problem to solve or an opportunity to do something differently, or maybe, just to accept that life sucks sometimes and we just need to get on with it, but at least someone cared enough to listen.
If you're struggling to deal with conflict with Love, let me know. I'm a great listener.
Written by Viki Johnston, a Brit, who recently moved to Southern California with her family, is a self-confessed learning junkie. Having flunked out of school at 16, she spent the next 30 (cough) years trying to figure out why learning stuff is so hard. She made it her mission to help others believe in their abilities and achieve more than they thought possible. Now through her coaching and business focused training she helps others to experience the “light bulb moment” and strive to greatness.
Her heroes are Sir Richard Branson and Brené Brown for their inspiration, and her Husband, whom without, she would never have been able to live a life full of her own “light bulb moments”.