Conflicts make thousands of refugees fleeing around the world, finding a safe place to live – Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Israel and Palestine, Libya, so many. I feel horrible hearing the news, watching people trying to find food or water when there is a cease-fire for 24 hours. Why are we doing this to each other?
These are complicated conflicts, but if we look around us, there are also many small conflicts, non-resolved issues which are not (really) dealt with. In some cases even become worse because we don’t seem to understand each other, don’t think the other person deserves it, pride is withholding us or annoyance built up so high people are not able think clearly anymore and ignite like a match set on fire. It is a short ignition but if you light the match for too long, you will burn your fingers.
I believe conflicts, fights, disagreements can serve to make progress, come to a solution, grow, look at something from a different angle or even deepen relationships. It is the way of communicating and listening, willingness to look at your own role in the situation, and ability to forgive, that in my view determines if and how the conflict will evolve, is productive or becomes worse.
One of my experiences was a situation in which a colleague was extremely frustrated about something that I apparently had caused and he summoned me to talk. Immediately after entering my room, he started yelling at me and eventually he asked me why I was even there because I did not know how to do my work. I was totally shocked and had no clue how to respond to this matter, so I started defending and telling him what he did wrong. This obviously did not help and turned out into a huge emotional discussion and over which I afterwards cried in another colleague’s office. And basically led to nothing but frustration with the both of us. Not something to repeat.
So, over the past years, I learnt several techniques to express myself in a non-defensive, non-aggressive way if I felt hurt, offended, angry or otherwise, so that others would want to hear me out.
One of these techniques that touched me and helped me incredibly is ‘Nonviolent Communication’ developed by Marshall Rosenberg and trained by, amongst others, Yoram Mosenzon. Nonviolent Communication assumes that under each action we take there is a need that wants to be fulfilled. Learning about and working with Nonviolent Communication has made my life easier and relationships deeper, as I start a ‘difficult’ conversation with facts, and express my own feelings and needs, and finally come with a request to improve the situation, rather than blaming the other person about what s/he did wrong. I am inspired by Yoram, who explains the method in the following TedTalk.
This way of communication has given me the courage to enter difficult conversations and being able to sincerely listen to others. It also brought me respect, understanding and solutions to problems.
Let’s be honest, you don’t want endless fights, it drains your energy, it keeps you awake at night. So why not solve it?
I invite you to think about a situation in which;
– you have a quarrel with your employee or
– you have a dispute with your manager or
– your colleague or friend hurt you by something s/he said or did
and step into a nonviolent conversation with that person, sticking to the facts, your own feelings, your own needs, and finally come with a request to improve the situation and bring the conflict to a resolution.
If you want to learn more? Please connect with me and we meet for a cup of coffee.