Ever have a personal, business or career situation where there were words exchanged that didn’t resolve anything, just making the situation even more difficult and uncomfortable over time? Or perhaps you, like millions of others, want to avoid confrontation at all costs! You just let everything slip past you hoping all will just go away and as a result of not dealing with the situation you wind up not feeling so good about yourself? I want to share with you several skills and tools that will alleviate being part of the problem, these negative feelings you hold and give you the power to become part of the solution. What you will be working with are things you do hundreds of times every day unconsciously. Simply by making yourself aware of them consciously and with some practice, you can start using them as skills and tools. It might feel awkward at first, just like when you started learning anything else new. An example would be, starting with a new voice teacher who has a whole different approach to vocal technique. It might at first seem foreign and awkward and you might also feel uncoordinated physically in the beginning. It will be the same way learning to use these skills and tools but the more you use them the quicker it will become a habit that will help you feel empowered by consciously becoming aware of what you are doing instead of running away for any problematic situation in the future.
Here are some suggestions to maximize and help turn into what used to be problems into tools and skills to create a win-win situation. Learning to use them as skills and tools means conflict can become a more comfortable and non-combative situation. One of the key elements in resolving conflict is understanding and using the many parts of Rapport consciously as a tool. Here is an outline of how to navigate conflict creating a win-win situation.
Inner Language Systems and how to use them
The power of Personal Space
Gaining Listening Skills and learning how to lead in a conflict by Mirroring
Reading Body Language
Detaching from the Emotion of the situation.
How to get the results you want through Asking Questions
“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each man’s life a sorrow and a suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”
~ Henry Longfellow
Rapport is the ability to maximize our relationships with others. We have this kind of experience daily with friends, colleagues, family, pets, etc. We express rapport through our body language, the use of our personal space and through the language we speak to both ourselves, our internal conversation and with others. This can quickly create either a climate of trust and understanding, or conversely, a climate of mistrust and anger (i.e. us vs. them). In our everyday lives, with friends, family, jobs, or while working on our career, learning how to best deal with conflict is of paramount importance. Being able to build a win-win situation empowers you to support your Personal Brand and actually start living your Mission Statement. You become more of you than you have ever been before and through your ability to use these new tools, encourage others to appreciate and respect the real you. Using this new tool to resolve conflict quickly and effectively will afford you the opportunity to be in charge while appreciating and respecting the differences between both of you.
- Is the ultimate prerequisite for good communication.
- Gives you the ability to influence others and make changes.
- Enhances your capability of seeing another’s point of view while not always having to agree.
- Allows you to comfortably enter another’s model of their world on their terms while appreciating and respecting their feelings.
- Can take the emotion out of a potential conflict which then permits one to find the solution to the problem allowing for a win-win situation.
“The biggest mistake is believing there is one right way to listen, to talk, to have a conversation – or a relationship.”
~ Deborah Tannen
Inner Language Systems
Here is a very easy, user friendly tool to use when negotiating conflict. Again, it is something you do hundreds of times a day unconsciously. It becomes a tool when you start using it on purpose. There are three basic inner language systems that we all use every day, but have a preferred one of the three that we use most of the time. The three inner language systems are Visual – Hearing – Feeling. Whether it is verbal or written we use our own system when we talk to ourselves and when we communicate with others whether it is verbal or written.
It’s how we store and retrieve information and memories which are gathered through our five senses. (seeing – hearing – feeling – taste – smell.) It’s also about the words we each choose to use when we speak about our experiences. There is no right or wrong, better or worse to these systems they are just different from one another. Often conflict occurs simply because those involved do not have the same primary inner language and it seems that no matter what you say, you can’t understand each other or get your point across. This is one of the biggest reasons for miscommunication. When you are resolving any conflict it is important to know what inner language system the person with whom you are having a conflict prefers so you can then speak to them in their own inner language. This then becomes a powerful tool because it helps develop your awareness and sensitivity to others. Everyone can develop the ability to use all three systems. It just takes being aware and some practice.
Here is how it’s done. With each of these inner language systems there are certain physical things that involuntarily happen when our minds begin to think.
- An involuntary eye movement is the first key to identifying and understanding your inner language and that of others. When a question is asked, it is impossible not to respond by locating with your eyes and moving them to where you stored the information to answer the question.
Here are diagrams of the specific eye movements that denote Visual, Hearing or Feeling inner language systems:
The second key is specific word choices that support your chosen inner system of communication.
- Those whose primary inner language system preference is Visual are comfortable with and respond to phrases like: I see what you mean. – I’ll take look at it. – It’s clear to me. They usually like everything very well organized and neat.
- Those whose primary inner language system preference is Hearing are comfortable with and respond to phrases like: It sounds right to me. – I hear what you are saying. – I tuned him out. They often have trouble making direct eye contact because they really need to focus on only listening to make sense of what is going on.
- Those whose primary inner language system preference is Feeling are comfortable with and respond to phrases like: Feels right to me. – Can’t put my finger on it. – Catch you later. The best method of learning is usually being given the opportunity to take whatever it is, thoughts, feelings or things, apart and then put them back together again. They often need physical action to help keep them from being fidgety.
Here is a list of words that you will need to study so you will have at least a few words you can use in an answer or phrase when dealing with a conflicted situation.
“Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
~ William James
Several prominent Doctors and Psychologists such as Rollin McCraty of the Heart Math Institute, Gary Schwartz, professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, Linda Russek of the Heart Science Foundation and Mae-Wan Ho , Institute of Science in Society have proved through rigorous scientific testing that our Personal Space is something very real; that it can actually be measured electronically. We are each surrounded by our own electromagnetic field. It extends about an arms reach in a circle around us and we have the power to either extend it way out beyond those with whom we are engaging or we can pull it in close to us as the occasion dictates.
Have you every experienced discomfort when someone who is engaging you in conversation is standing too close? You probably can’t even focus on what they are saying. All you want to do is to back away from them. This is your personal space being breeched without your permission. Now think of someone you have a great relationship with; someone who makes you feel safe and comfortable when sharing information. This person has a standing invitation to enter your personal space without needing your permission each time. You are in excellent rapport with your friend.
Try this: When you notice that you seem to be engaged in an issue or conflict try this approach. In your minds eye, feel your personal space around you and then invite that person into your personal space, give them your permission to enter your space as you start the process of using your new tools. To do that, imagination creating a space around yourself that is roomy enough to include the person with whom you are speaking. Most times, the conflicted person will immediately feel they are being welcomed, listened to and taken seriously which will automatically calm the situation down giving you an opportunity for meaningful dialogue.
Becoming aware of and using your own personal space as a tool is one of the quickest and most secure ways of gaining rapport with anyone. And it is an important part of how we relate to the world and the world relates to us. It is our comfort zone and can be used as a tool.
“Always remember you’re unique. Just like everyone else.”
Listening is a skill. We often do other things rather than listening. We tend to start forming our brilliant answer before the person with whom we are speaking is done with their thought. We often try to sway others to our opinions and often finish their sentences for them. It is a real gift to others to be able to simply listen to what they are saying. You don’t need to agree with them or even like them, but you can be respectful and give them your full attention and your full presence. Try finding what their inner language system is and try using this new skill with them. Listen for their key points. We often start judging someone when we don’t agree with them, forgetting that we do not know what went on in their lives right before this encounter or what is going to happen just after we are done. We are dealing only with this one point in time and it’s just one photo, not the full length movie of their lives. So listen to what is being said, not to how it is being said and if you start feeling your emotions rise know you are only reacting to messenger, not the message. Everyone has a right to their own perspective and opinion.
When you are in conversation with someone and you want to make sure you are understanding exactly what the other person is telling you, it helps to mirror back to them what they have just said to you. Example: “So what I heard you say was or my understanding of what you said was”, and then paraphrase what you thought they said back to them using their same inner language. This will allow you to know for sure that the message given by them was the one you received. If there is any doubt on their part, tell them you would appreciate it if they could possibly say it another way, because you didn’t quite understand what they just said. It is always good to get conformation from the other person by paraphrasing back to them what you heard. If you want to make sure you have been understood, you can ask the other person to repeat back to you what you just said. This gives you an opportunity to make sure your message has been received properly. Your job is to create clear, concise communication.
“In the midst of great joy, do not promise anyone anything. In the midst of great anger, do not answer anyone’s letter.”
~ Chinese proverb
Even without hearing a conversation, it is pretty easy to read what is happening between two people. Think of someone with whom you have a great relationship. This would no doubt be someone that you like a lot, feel comfortable and safe to share ideas with. Your body language would read the same as your feelings for this person, open, perhaps leaning toward them, making physical contact and standing or sitting in similar physical positions in a casual way. Now think of someone with whom you don’t have such a great relationship. Think about how your body language changes to let that other person know how you feel about them. You would probably be physically closed off with your arms folded over you chest and leaning away from them. We tend to adopt the same body posture as the person with whom we are speaking no matter if we are enjoying the other person or not. We move, gesture, laugh, argue at the same pitch and volume, have the same style and rhythm of movement and speech. It’s something we are not conscious of, we just do it. When you start using this as a tool, you might feel unsure of yourself to be begin with, but with practice you will gain confidence because you have a piece of the puzzle to being a good communicator.
- For example: If a colleague is angry, or has some type of conflict with you, to change it you can consciously take a similar physical posture as the person you are dealing with when starting the conversation, and then slowly lead them by changing your own posture. Perhaps uncrossing your arms, feeling more relaxed in your body posture, while lowering you voice pitch and volume you can help lead them to a place where it is easier to get the information you need to help resolve your conflict. This is something that needs to be practiced in a safe environment before you try it out on anybody for real. It is a subtle modeling of how they stand or hold their body. You can’t be too obvious and you can’t noticeably mimic the other person. That creates further conflict.
“Have you ever been hurt and the place tries to heal a bit, and you just pull the scar off of it over and over again.”
~ Rosa Parks
Stepping out of the Emotion of the Moment
How many times have you found yourself getting drawn into your emotions when trying to resolve a conflict with someone even if it is a small misunderstanding? If your emotions are starting to pull you in a direction that you don’t want to go, how can you change directions while staying present without being drawn into this emotional chaos?
Try this: When you have even a twinge of emotional response to what is going on, physically take one small step backward out of the emotional situation while leaving the emotion you are feeling over there. Being able to look at just the facts of a situation without the emotion gives you an opportunity to find exactly what the argument or disagreement is really about. (This will also eventually work by taking the step back using only your imagination.) This might have to be done several times, and you have to be aware of when it starts to happen so you can make this small adjustment before you wind up with where you don’t want to go. It’s a very simple exercise but it does work. Being passionate about life is great, but getting caught up in the emotional impact of what someone else is experiencing leaves no one in charge. It then becomes another emotional and mind battle that neither party can win and leaves you feeling not so good about yourself.
“I am more and more convinced that our happiness or our unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the events of life than on the nature of those events themselves.”
~ Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt
Asking the Right Question
When in a conversation, whether is it heated or normal, it is helpful to use “how and what” questions rather than a “why” question. “Why” questions often make others feel like they have to defend themselves where as “how and what” questions allow others to explain in more detail their point of view which usually gives you better information about how you need to respond.
- Other person: It really annoys me. You: What specifically annoys you? Or how specifically are you annoyed?
- Other person: This always happens to me. You: What specifically always happens to you?
- Other person: There is never anyone around to help me. You: What would happen if there was someone around or how would you feel if there was someone around to help you?
- Other person: I wish I knew how to reach my goal. You: How would you know when you have successfully achieved that goal?
“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”
~ Carlos Castaneda
Gaining these new skills and tools to help you resolve conflict is well worth its weight in gold for many reasons. It gives you a sense of being empowered because you know you can handle a part of your life that might previously have been out of control. These tools and skills can be used throughout your life in many differing situations. They can be used together or separately. As always, practice is the key if you want to establish this as your back-up file and as a habit. You eventually won’t have to think about how to do it. Instead, just like a new vocal technique you are learning, it will gradually become the norm and you will have a new confidence in your self for having done the work.
Hope this answers your question V. and gives you the tools and skills you need to resolve your situation.
Ciao until next time. Carol