Real Relationship Advice
“All empty souls tend toward extreme opinions.” William Butler Yeats
Conflict is everywhere. It seems like every one has dug in their heels and decided that they possess the ultimate truth. We no longer hold the concept of opinion nor do we think as a society that everyone is entitled to one. We live in a nation divided into groups of ‘if you are not with me you are against me’ and a point of view is considered the answer to ‘life, the universe and everything’ of the cosmos. We have soldiers of God, defenders of the Constitution and reluctant advocates for free speech and respect.
With such extreme polarization, we need to look at the basic tenets of conflict resolution to assuage all sides:
1. All parties must be willing to settle the dispute: We must understand that the only way to resolve conflict is if the participants are willing to get along. As long as we hold the belief that there is only one truth then there will be conflict. However, if we accept that there can be more than one way to see things, we may be open to the possibility of accepting that our beliefs are our opinions. Thusly, we can possibly allow the possibility that another’s opinions have the right to exist in our universe.
2. We must all commit to respect: When we say, we agree to disagree there needs to be a basis of mutual respect. However, most conflicts are founded in the understanding that your opponent is ignorant. If this is the case, there is no resolution.
3. This is not a platform of convincing: Conflict resolution deals with hurt feelings usually stemming from past hurts that are triggered in the present. It hardly ever includes convincing the other person that you were right or vice versa.
4. Use only I statements: To reach a point where the participants choose to respect one another, they must speak only of their convictions and feelings. ‘You’ is accusatory and a complete breakdown of resolution.
5. To truly resolve a conflict, one must reach an understanding that the world is not black and white: Without giving up your convictions, to resolve an issue we must allow for the gray in life. Nothing is ever completely right and nothing is ever completely wrong. Even Biblically, the 10 Commandments include tenets that we break in the name of the Lord. Thou Shall Not Kill is not a suggestion but a commandment and yet we feel justified in going to war.
It is a crazy time and opinions are flying. The most important thing to keep in mind when trying to resolve an argument is that positions are flexible and to think otherwise is to doom the negotiation.
So ask yourself: How many people do you know who believe they know the truth about life, the universe and everything? If so, are they happy?