Fast or Slow?
When we think about conflict many things come to mind before speed does.
Is there yelling? Am I using “I statements”? Who is being passive-aggressive? How capable am I of being assertive?
Speed is important though for a number of reasons. Let’s look at them one at a time.
1. Processing Time
When something happens that triggers the need for a difficult, potentially conflictual conversation, time to process is very beneficial.
I. Asking myself questions such as “What part of this is coming from my actions?” and “Are there other things going on contributing to what I’m feeling right now?” help a lot.
II. Letting the emotions go from potentially really high levels when in reaction mode to ones that can be blended with logic and reason, also help.
III. Some of us process way more quickly - due to personality differences, skill level in emotional self-awareness, and based on what else is going on at the moment.
2. Being Prepared
Processing the emotional and factual data to be talked about is only one piece. Being in the right head space matters too.
I. Apart from processing emotionally and cognitively, I also need to know I have enough fuel in my tank for this conversation. Right before bed or right after a hard work day are likely not the times.
II. If I’m an introvert (which I’m not) a day filled with people will have drained me. To have an important conversation with my partner, I want to have something in my tank. If I don’t, I will be less able to be respectful of myself and/or my partner.
III. Once I have processed, it may also help me to jot down my points. If difficult conversations trigger a lot of emotion for me it may be hard to remember what I want to say when emotions are high. This is not about reading my list but about being sure I don’t compromise what I feel needs to be expressed.
I’ve blogged about this before more in depth. The point is though that the best conversations happen when both parties feel heard.
I. Listening well and coming up with my response at the same time don’t happen well. Sometimes the use of a talking stick can help - when your partner has the stick you are just listening.
II. Another way to take turns is to alternate saying 3 sentences and then having your partner say them back, including the emotions that they hear in those sentences until the speaker feels really heard. This can continue with the same speaker or alternate between partners.
III. Another technique for turn taking is to really separate listening from the response to allow for further processing between hearing and responding. Both people may gain insight during the speaking and listening. When you reconvene the person who was listening gets to talk and be really listened to.
When it is your turn to listen, body language acknowledgement and simple paraphrasing back (also called mirroring) are useful skills to encourage the speaker to continue.
Simply using phrases like “tell me more” also help.
This all sounds so matter of fact on the screen. We all know that this is hard stuff. I’m not saying any of this is easy. Just really worthwhile!
What do you have to gain by having more respectful and kind conflict?
What do you really “win” when you “win” an argument?
Until next time,
The Luv Life Coach
Marilyn Orr, MA, CEC, PCC is a relationship coach with Luv Life Coaching, passionate about equipping couples with the tools for real and lasting intimacy.
Be proactive in your relationships so you can stay ahead of the problem. Learn how to listen better, handle conflict in productive ways and bring out the best in your partner. Reach Out to Marilyn and grow your Luv Life skills today!
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Posted on Thu, March 21, 2019
by Marilyn Orr filed under