Conflict #9 – I Know What You Want!

Abraham Lincoln was masterful at conflict resolution. In that vein he’s famous for having said, “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.”

During the U.S. Civil War, as in all wars, a major objective was to understand the strategy of the other side: What are they trying to do? How can we stop them? This is the way we think and this is the language we use when we see the other person or group as “the enemy”.

Think about the language you’ve used when arguing with someone. Did you ever try to define the other person’s motives? Have you ever said anything like, “You’re just trying to ________________.” Or, “All you care about is __________________.” Or, “I know what you want, it’s the same thing all over again.”

This never, never, never works. Do not say that you “know” the motives of the other person. When you do that, the other person will probably feel offended or threatened, and will react defensively. When that happens the conversation can turn into a screaming match or worse. If your curiosity gets the better of you, and you must know what’s motivating the other person, be direct: ask! This shows respect for the other person, and fosters mutual respect and understanding.

Instead of talking to the other person as if (s)he is the enemy, try talking as if (s)he is your ally or partner; someone you’d like to trust and to show respect for, who can help you work out the problem. Enlist his aid, ask her advice and notice how that approach works out.

Changing one’s way of thinking about and talking with other people can take time and effort. This often means a change of a life-long habit, and you might succeed in doing this on your own. But there’s no shame in admitting you need help. If that’s the case, I’m ready, willing and able. A free consultation is available. Please call 219-309-3928 if you’d like to talk.

Thanks for reading!