How do you engage in conversations in your professional or personal life that make you uncomfortable and vulnerable? When you’re hesitant to talk about conflict, it can be tempting to avoid the issue altogether, but that can have disastrous results. There’s a sign that catches my eye every time I leave my gym that reads: ‘It Never Gets Easier, You Just get Better’. The same could be said of leading difficult conflict conversations, such as giving sensitive feedback to an employee, raising a performance concern, or even a sensitive personal matter between friends.
In the ongoing wake of COVID pandemic’s testing times, many people are publicly voicing their anxieties and frustrations at maximum volume, escalating work stress for many frontline workers. Some people have irrational beliefs that amplify their reactive emotions. This leads to difficult behaviours, angry outbursts and verbal abuse. They believe they’re entitled to make demands – a state-of-mind you can recognise if they repeatedly use words such as: ‘must’, ‘should’, ‘have to’ and ‘can’t’.
We humans sometimes learn wisdom through a fair bit of stupidity. We all have irrational assumptions about how we see conflicts play out, based on the stories we tell ourselves. We often learnt these assumptions and created these stories during our childhood, which means there is also likely to be immature emotions and needs underlying these stories.
You can create more peace in every conversation you have.
Too often fault and blame about the past gets in the way of successfully resolving conflicts, especially when there is a lot of emotion involved.
Here are five tips to reduce the risk of failing in difficult discussions when you could achieve an outcome that potentially works for everybody.
“I don’t like conflict, but I’m actually really good at getting in the middle of it. So I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes. And that sort of mistake led me towards saying “I’m never going to be a counsellor” and then finding it’s what I do, it’s my state of flow, if you like. And then finding out that counselling is all about difficult conversations, difficult people. We know we have difficult internal experiences. And that led me to get really interested in how to resolve conflict. So I now work a lot with having people with who have difficult people in their lives or need to have those difficult conversations that we avoid. Yeah, organisations that need to deal with difficult circumstances, or difficult environments, difficult people. So that’s, that’s my world now.
In these difficult times so many of us are experiencing during the COVID19 pandemic it is often the kindness of strangers that gives an insight into our human connections. The pressures of responding to the unknown reveals our true values and strength of our relationships.
This is a story of how our social collective, our human generosity and care got my daughter home from London amid the chaos of an emerging pandemic.