“One of us is wrong, and it’s definitely not me!” When you stop and think about it, that’s pretty much the attitude that starts every single conflict. Really! If I didn’t have that idea that I’m right and someone else is wrong, there wouldn’t be a conflict, would there?
So, given that the other person is sure you’re wrong, what are you going to do about it? Pointing out that they’re wrong doesn’t help, because now you’ve said the second thing in a row that your spouse / child / parent / customer / prospect / adversary doesn’t believe is true.
The thing that’s worth addressing has nothing much to do with the matter at hand, and everything to do with building credibility, attention and respect. Only then do you have a chance to educate and eventually persuade. Only then, do you have a chance to reconsider and come to the same conclusion as your opponent.
We solve conflict by building bridges, not burning them. Building a bridge permits education or dialogue or learning. When you burn that bridge, you’ve ensured nothing but conflict.
What are the things that build bridges in our relationships? Let me suggest a few for starters:
Respect From The Heart – Disdain, arrogance and condescension will always burn bridges. Listening attentively with eye contact and letting the other person speak without interruption will be sure to build bridges.
Reflective Listening – Clarifying questions, asking how the particular issue has affected them, and making sure you first understand the other person’s viewpoint is a great start to bridge building.
Replay What You Heard – It is always a great trust builder to replay what you heard the other person say and then let them correct you until you have heard it exactly like they meant it.
Rethink Possible Solutions – Brainstorm possible points of view beside the two conflicting ones. Look for balance between extremes and creative ideas that weren’t a part of either side’s original opinion or idea.
Resolution That Is mutual – Focus on the common agreement points that have come out of listening to each other. Come to a mutual agreement or at least an agreement to disagree.
Only seeking to “be right” is always wrong. Insisting on your way is not the right way to build healthy relationships. No one wants to hang around with or follow the leadership of a person who always has to be right. It’s the wrong way to build a thriving organization, a solid marriage or a network of friends. Building bridges will always get you further down the road than burning bridges.
QUESTION: What additional suggestions would you add for building healthy relationships? Please share them in the Comment section below.