I used to avoid conflict like the plague.
That's because I rarely saw conflict done REALLY well. My experience (and TV) showed me I had 2 options: I could either get loud, dominate, and get scary, or I could sweep my own wants and needs under the rug.
Somebody won, and somebody lost.
I correlated screaming and yelling with being a *bad person* so I got really good at neglecting my own needs.
But THEN after a period of sweeping, sweeping, sweeping....resentment and anger would build and I would BLOW.
I was sort of like a tea kettle.
And, probably because I have a vagina... [...]
this blowing seemed to happen monthly; I didn't have the hormonal supports in place to tolerate the crap that I had tolerated the rest of the month. WATCH OUT!!
Looking back, it seems like there were a lot more ups and downs in my life then.
I spend the majority of my days leading people through really tough conversations. What I do isn't MAGICAL, I'm not a witch, and I'm not manipulating anyone.
I had a client in my office last week say, "HOW do you DO that?!!" We'd resolved a conflict she and her husband had gone round and round about at home. She'd given up on having the conversation with him and "saved it" for our session. "I KNEW you'd be able to do it!!" she said as she smacked her knees, sat back in her chair and exhaled. They both felt better at the end. It was a win-win.
I do this stuff so much that sometimes I forget how valuable it is.
People are always asking me, "So, what should I say next," and "What do I do next?" and that's what inspired my conflict map. I cover this map in detail in my latest webinar: 5 Cancerous Things in Your Marriage and How to Treat Them Before They Kill Your Relationship. For your very own conflict map to hang on your fridge go to the course sign-up page at www.MikaRoss.com/yes until June 15!
Conflict is probably never a linear thing and some conflicts may not fit in to this map, but I think it's a really great place to start making more sense of the conversations in your life.
Believe it or not, conflict can create MORE emotional intimacy when done really well. It doesn't have to be a win-lose situation. I haven't met a conversation I can't make a win-win. When you have all the skills it's possible for both people to fully resolve a conflict feeling better.
My top 3 conflict busters:
There has to be a mindset shift. First, you have to start thinking differently about conflict.
Conflict, or feelings of anger, irritation, and frustration just mean something isn't working or a need isn't being met. It's like the check engine light coming on in your car, but instead we treat conflict like it's a bear getting ready to eat us; we either run and hide (or avoid), or fight to dominate.
Either of these reactions lead right back to more conflict sooner or later. What would the results be if you avoided looking at your check engine light? Or argued with the car manufacturer about the accuracy of the check engine light in your car every time it came on? In both of those instances actually dealing with what's wrong with the car isn't happening.
With every complete resolution that comes from a conflict in a relationship the potential for future conflicts decreases and the potential for emotional intimacy increases. Conflict can be a REALLY cool thing!
Please, for the love, learn some active listening skills. Reflecting, when done really well, is such a powerful skill and learning this ONE THING has been shown to increase relationship satisfaction.
Reflecting is simply stating back to the speaker, in your own words, what you've heard her/him say. Reflecting in a not-so-advanced way sort of sounds like you're a parrot, but when the reflector focuses on reflecting back feelings and fears a simple paraphrase can deescalate the angriest of people and make the person you're talking to feel really understood and like they matter to you.
I do it everywhere, with everyone, all the time, but I didn't always believe in the power of the paraphrase. Some paraphrases are better than others and it DEFINITELY took practice on my part to get this skill down.
Are you honoring you? When a person is NOT really great at tough conversations she tends to not honor her/himself and what's best for her/him in order to avoid having tough conversations. Resentment and anger at another person can often contain messages for and about how you are treating yourself.
Don't get me wrong, it would be a WHOLE LOT easier if everyone around you could just mind read what you need so that you didn't have to have all these tough conversations, but until you find an entire family of psychics to adopt you or marry into, it might be easier to focus on your part of the problem.
Nothing in my life has been more empowering than recognizing the part I play in the problems in my life and the realization that it's the only part that matters.
"How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours." -Wayne Dyer