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Showing posts from March, 2014

Rules of Engagement in Conflict--Rule #4

     One night when there was nothing else on television, I decided to look for a movie on Netflix.  I stumbled across one of those straight-to-DVD flicks that featured a couple who were dating but were seriously considering marriage.  They'd been together a long time and seemed to know each other's qwerks pretty well.  They were a young couple.  The woman was a single mom whose son the boyfriend accepted as his own.  He was the proverbial "good guy" who was able to stomach a demanding, disrespectful girlfriend because of his great love for her.  Ironically, she suggested they go to couples' therapy before they decided to get married because she believed they needed to resolve a few issues first.  One of the biggest issues was her--and that filthy mouth of hers.  She spat so many expletives in a single sentence that you would've thought she viewed the love of her life as a worthless, mangy dog she'd prefer to have put down.  She was demeaning, loud, confro

Rules of Engagement in Conflict--Rule #3

       The next rule of engagement complements the prior.  Don’t ridicule the other person’s opinions or try to discredit them.  That's what you heard last time.  But the distinguishing factor between that one and this one is this:  Seek FIRST to CONSIDER what the other person has to say before rejecting or objecting to their views.  If your automatic response in a time of conflict is to find ways to weaken the other side's perspective, then you haven't given much positive thought to what they are saying.  Sure, you're hearing their side.  But your motives aren't pure.  You are listening only for faults so you can point them out.  Your goal is not to understand or to place yourself on the other side of the argument.  Your goal is to seek out the vulnerabilities and then pounce on them.  You are looking for ways to strengthen your position while weakening theirs.      In this rule of engagement, your goal should be to listen for what makes sense about what the

Rules of Engagement in Conflict--Rule #2

      Since it's obvious conflict arises out of two sides with opposing views, the question becomes how can we express our views without the situation becoming contentious?  Unfortunately, far too many people have not yet mastered how to disagree with another person without becoming angry or ridiculing the other perspective.  When we feel too strongly about our own beliefs, we close ourselves off to hearing and considering anyone else's.  This is wrong.  This attitude will cause conflict to be destructive.  Thus, the need to address the second rule.             Rule number two is this:  Respect the other side’s opinions.   You don’t have to agree with them, but everyone deserves the chance to be heard.  To ignore, discredit or disregard another side of an issue is to practice arrogance and dominance.  The two behaviors complement each other.  To dominate does not allow for acts of humility, thus you can't dominate another person's opinion without also practicing ar

Rules of Engagement in Conflict--Rule #1

     Since conflict between people, even nations, is inevitable, we have to find ways to disagree in a respectful way.  Couples, coworkers, managers and direct reports, church folk, siblings, parents and kids, government officials, businesses and customers:  listen up!  Mutual respect is the key to having a meaningful dialogue when emotions are on the rise.  Remembering that the person or people on the other side of the debate have a brain and opinions too is imperative to keeping your emotions in check.  When we argue with people, it's because we feel that our views are the right ones.  Thus, saying to the other side, "You're wrong" in some way.      Of course, I realize arguments aren't quite that simple.  They're fueled by wounded feelings, betrayal, and other ways we feel mishandled.  But at the core of every disagreement is simply that:  We don't agree.  And that's okay.  Really, it is.  News flash:  You can disagree with other people.  It'