Conflict Resolution Musings

Blog entry posted by Dainty, Sep 7, 2017.

I was raised by a mom that's fluent in ancient Greek and taught logic classes on the side.

From her I learned that conflict resolution was all about getting to the bottom of The Truth, often reasoning yourselves to death along the way. Emotions were entirely unhelpful to conflict resolution. They were dismissed as immature and illogical.

It's all about being reasonable, you see. It's all about identifying who's right, about what exact things, and by how much. Who's in the wrong, and do they know they were wrong? Will they admit it? Will they apologize for it? Does it ring sincere?

***​

Then I got out in the world. And I started to find authentic ways of living that resonated with me. I noticed that the people I meshed well with handled conflict entirely differently.

I liked it.

You see, I there's a perspective that says it's not actually about who's right or who's wrong. "Right" and "wrong" are temporarily suspended.

Rather, it's about feeling heard.

It's about listening.

It's about supporting each other.

It's about collaborating on solutions.

Luckily, I learned how to do this before I met my now-fiance. When conflict arises, our first instinct is to make sure each others' needs are being met. "What would help?" is asked frequently. We use phrases like "When you said ______ I felt ____ because _______."

We validate each others' emotions as legitimate, even if we disagree about the matter that causing them. For example:

"It makes sense to me why you're mad. I probably would be in your shoes too. But the thing you're mad about is actually something I had no control over. That makes me feel helpless and at a loss for solutions. Is there anything I can do to help you feel better right now?"

This style of navigating conflict is not uncommon in the circles I now run in. Every emotion is valid. Every boundary is to be respected. If someone needs space, you give it right away, and don't take it personally--they're just processing however they need to process. If you feel you're so badly affected that you cannot work through the conflict in a civil manner, then it's up to you to communicate what you need and protect others from yourself as necessary.

And y'know, I say "civil", but I think some folks around here have a different definition than what I'm referring to.

More like:

If you cannot see the hurting human on the other side of you, if you cannot keep kindness and empathy and support close to the front of your mind throughout the conflict, then you are not ready to hash it out. You are not (yet) a safe person to do so with.
***​

Nowadays when I see how the rest of the world tends to do conflict, it shocks me. It's as if rule #1 is tear the other person down. Rip their argument to shreds. Show 'em that you're right. Make sure everyone knows it.

Let me use a metaphor. Have you heard about how a drowning person will, in a panic, climb on top of anything within reach? Including their rescuer? It's a very dangerous situation. Instinct takes over. Both people can drown each other in their primal desperation to survive.

Unhealthy conflict looks like that to me. And usually it's not that anyone intentionally wants to drown each other. It just feels like you're sinking, so you grab for whatever you can to pull yourself up and get another breath of air. In the moment, you don't realize what you're doing to the other person. You don't realize their frantic movements are because they can't breathe with you on top of them. You just know if you're winning the argument, you're able to get some air and the world feels like it might start to be okay again.

Until the other person begins gaining ground, that is.

It's so miserable, guys.

There's a better way.

I hope you find it.
Molly98, Snow Leopard, Sushi and 6 others like this.
Dainty

About the Author

Dainty became ill as a teenager and spent 7 years mostly bedridden from ME/CFS, life-threatening MCS reactions, extreme food allergies/sensitivities, cognitive impairment, fibromyalgia, episodes of temporary paralysis and various unexplained emergencies. The past 5 years she has experienced profound improvement from various treatment approaches. With homelessness and PTSD presenting as significant obstacles, she continues to pursue healing full time and find incorrigible opportunities to enjoy life.
  1. Dainty
    Thanks for your comment, @Molly98. I agree it's a really sad state we're in. I feel that those who have never encountered, as @Snow Leopord phrased it, "nonviolent communication" (thank you, I didn't know that was a thing!) don't really have a change to navigate conflict in a beneficial manner. I hope people find ways to heal the wounds this has caused. :(
  2. Molly98
    like I just commented on your other blog, you are wise beyond your days Dainty. It is so true what you have written, but if you have not grown up with it, so not had it demonstrated to you and have not been in other such environments to learn such skills and also practice such skills people revert to their original learned behaviour in such situations. What is happening in PR is sadly a microcosim of every conflict we are seeing in the world and it is heartbreaking. The wounds from any conflict including this one will sadly be longlasting for some people and have far wider reaching consequences for the ME community and I don't think that price was worth paying in order to be right and prove others wrong
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  3. Snow Leopard
    Well said. This sort of thing is the basis for https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonviolent_Communication. I don't understand why this is not the norm and I don't understand why so many people don't recognise other communication styles as being potentially conflict causing.
    Molly98 and Dainty like this.
  4. Snowdrop
    I used to believe in logic as the solution for a long time. I don't any more. We are both inundated with so much information and at the same time never have enough information . People imperfectly disclose information sometimes they are unaware of that and their motivations. In order to come to decisions we need to judge information and we need to understand human motivations and expressions. We need to develop more mature emotional states in order to process the information. Being chronically ill (and exhausted) can pretty much kill that ability or the process of acquiring it though.
    Molly98 and Dainty like this.
  5. Dainty
    Thanks @hellytheelephant!
    Molly98 likes this.
  6. hellytheelephant
    Really, really good blog @Dainty. x
    Molly98, Sushi and Dainty like this.