Resolving Conflict: Understanding Your Partner’s Point of View
Two lovers in a heated fight: One person thinking “You make me so mad! If you would have just done “it” the way I wanted we would not have be in this argument right now!” The other person is sitting on the opposite side thinking “You never see my point of view. You don’t hear a word that comes out of my mouth.”
Is this a familiar scenario? Have you found yourself engaging in a similar dialogue? What have been the outcomes to these situations? Have you continued to rehash the same argument because it was never resolved in the first place?
Five Steps to Conflict Resolution:
Well here’s a helpful tool to assist in your ability to look at a conflict from the perspective of your partner.
Position One: I’m Right, Your Wrong – When in the middle of conflict, this is typically the stance that most people take. It’s very easy for us to see our side of the story, because it already makes complete sense. The problem with this position is that you then spend hours trying to show your partner how your side is the better perspective. During this process, the other person may feel a) unheard, b) talked over, c) talked down to, d) manipulated or e) simply shut down.
Position Two: You’re Right and I’m Wrong – This is a change in perspective in which you work really hard to see the situation from the shoes of the other person. During this time, you compile reasons and rationale for the thoughts of the other person and find flaws in your own argument. This is an arduous process that takes discipline, courage and a desire to really expand your way of engaging and communicating with your partner. The goal of this position is to simply understand the thoughts or behaviors of the other person. During this time and because of the strength of our convictions, we can quickly and easily slip back into Position One and it may be warranted. You may discover that Position One is appropriate, but before you take that stance explore. The benefit of this position is that by demonstrating to your partner that you are taking the time to understand their position, they often feel cared for / loved. However, letting of your perspective / needs / desires is not always healthy either. Both voices need to be heard / incorporated otherwise over time it’s easy to feel manipulated.
Positions Three and Four: Position Three is that Both perspectives are Right and Wrong – From this vantage point you are able to see the perspectives of both sides. Certainly, there are merits to both sides and ideally you have been able to come to this conclusion at this point. Another goal of this position is to identify the commonalities between your perspectives, explore the value system you each hold and the impact it may have on your relationship. By creating space for each person to articulate their values and how their values influence the interpretation of facts, a much larger, and probably dialogue has emerged. This larger dialogue is critical to helping each other throughout the years navigate the boundless disagreements that are sure to evolve.
Position Four: otherwise known as The Issue Isn’t As Important as It Seems! – I know that this doesn’t always seem possible but it’s the truth. Often times it is not as important as it seems. As time passes and the heat of the confrontation becomes overtaken with other life events that begin to take precedence, we lost sight of what made that last confrontation so emergent. If that’s the case then the situation is fixable and it’s not that important to focus on the negativity.
Position Five: There’s Truth In All Perspectives – This is similar to Position Three but with a little more enlightenment. However, the difference exists in the fact that at this point you will have the ability to look at the situation from all angles and see the worth from multiple perspectives. There is truth in all of it. Thus, in this position, each perspective has meaning. No longer are you just focused on “being right” or “solving” the issue. Rather you are focused on emotionally connecting with each person’s position. Hopefully this will help you and your partner begin to look and communicate with each other with a new set of lenses.