We pay close attention to conflict resolution strategies because they’re desperately needed in our world of confusion, misunderstanding, and overload. Arguing, fighting, resisting—it’s conflict. Conflict produces stress and if it persists, stress harms and kills. It wastes time. It costs money. It destroys relationships. There’s gotta be a better way! There is: Put your ego in its place, cool down, and ask a better question than: Aren’t they stupid?
You’ll need to see things from the other side, through their lens. A questioning technique that we use successfully when conflict rears its inevitable head: How could she be right? How does the other side make sense? And we’re not being sarcastic. Let’s understand them, first. That’s empathy.
Both sides asking: How could they (the other side) be right? and both taking the time to answer thoughtfully. It’s a big change from the habitual position of defending our position and refusing to consider the other’s. Instead, we’re listening, understanding, learning, and initiating resolution of differences. We’re all exceptional at justifying our own position; we’re not so good at understanding other’s. This strategy helps us to understand.
A speaker on Ted.com asked: How do we act when we think we’re right, even though we are absolutely wrong? Answer: We act as if we’re absolutely right and like they’re stupid for not seeing the light! And we were stone wrong! Science says, on average, we’re wrong 70% of the time and when that 70% wrongness occurs—if I believe there’s no way I could be wrong—I’ll act as if I’m absolutely right!
So, next time you disagree with someone, why not give this a shot? Ask yourself: How could she be right? And take the time, effort, and empathy to ponder, reflect, and answer. It helps resolve many conflicts, preserves and enhances our relationships, and lets us find common ground on which to build.
What do you have to lose by trying it? More importantly, what will you have to gain?