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How to respond respectfully in a conflict?

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

How to Respond Respectfully in a Conflict?

I heard of two failed marriages in the past two weeks alone, and several other arguments where only one party wins and the other loses. And, I wonder how many of these outcomes could have been avoided if we all practice how to respond respectfully, even in a conflict? Easier said, I am also guilty at times of being defensive or aggressive when my lid is flipped. But, I am committed to be a better communicator. What about you?

So, this week’s blog is a reminder of the steps we can all practice to make our communications more meaningful and effective.

respond respectfully

As mentioned in last week’s blog, the first step to take when we are upset is to respond with your problem “I” message, followed by reflective listening. So, what happens if the other person does not accept your message or also has a problem?

How to respond respectfully when the other person also has a problem…

When we realize that both person have a problem, both parties may still be experiencing the heightened emotional states. We may also have spoken or acted in an inappropriate manner. And regret it later.

Actually, it is possible to respond respectfully if we choose to. And it becomes easier with practice…

1. Acknowledge that both person’s needs are important. Ask the other person if they are willing to partner with you to find a solution to get to a win-win outcome.

2. Define both person’s needs.

3. Brainstorm solutions – Take turns to come up with potential solutions. At this point, it is important NOT TO criticize or challenge the feasibility of the solution yet.

4. Evaluation & Choose Best Solution – Only after both parties have come up with the solutions, then, evaluate and state your preferred solution and how it would meet both persons’ needs. This may be a process, and so important to agree on a solution that meets the needs of both person.

How to respond respectfully when the other person doesn’t care…

Yes, this would require more patience and influencing skills as it is values, or beliefs at odds!

1. Look for shared values – It always helps if we can restate the shared value we have with the other person. Why? Because they would be more inclined to engage in your discussion if they can see a common goal or value.

2. Model the behavior you wish to see – If possible, we want to be the model of the behavior we wish to see. This goes with parenting! When we model the behavior or value we wish the other person to have, the other person will be more likely to follow.

3. Consult

a. Get your facts first and ask if the person is willing to listen to you.

b. Share your opinions with “I” messages. Reflective Listen.

c. And, leave the final decision to the other person! Resist the temptation to hassle or use power!

The last step is often the hardest to do! And, of course there may be certain situations where we do have to use power (e.g. where law or safety is concerned).

But before you act, ask yourself this first – Is your intention to get what you want and not mind that it will hurt your relationship with that person? Or would you rather influence to get what you want and at the same time build better relationship with the person? Choose what serves you.

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