“You did this.”
“Oh yeah? Well, you did that!”
“Well, I only did that because you did something else!”
“Hey, I had to do that because you did…”
And so it goes. It may sound like a playground conversation, but fill in the blanks and you may recognize a “discussion” you’ve had with a spouse, co-worker, family member or friend. It’s an escalating spiral heading nowhere good. How can you curb the escalation and move things in a positive direction?
You can not only derail the escalating conflict, you can actually strengthen the relationship by developing the ability to manage conflict, not simply react to it. Managing conflict starts with listening and truly hearing what the other person is saying and finding 2% you can own.
Accusations are by nature emotional; they’re subjective and often exaggerated. You don’t have to accept the entire accusation being lobbed at you. But somewhere in the claims might be a nugget of truth. Something you can acknowledge and commit to work on.
Look for just 2% of what the other person is saying and take it on. Be willing to say, “OK, there’s a piece of what you’re saying I can acknowledge. Here’s what I’m willing to do about it going forward. Here’s how I’m willing to adjust, to operate differently.”
One person stepping outside the escalation, hearing what the other is saying, and taking ownership of just 2% will defuse the situation. It will often open the other person up to reciprocating. That will lead to more open, productive conversations and a stronger relationship.
The passion and conviction that’s driving a conflict situation can lead to action and commitment. And it can lead to stronger interpersonal relationships.
As we said last week: Good relationships are not defined by an absence of conflict. They’re defined by the ability to handle conflict well.
If you’re willing to own 2% in conflict situations, you can manage conflict situations, not simply react. You’ll be able to turn conflict into strengthened relationships and positive change.