Every relationship is laced with perpetual conflict. Translation. You and those tightest with you are gonna conflict till death parts you. Try adding this thought to your marriage vow – Get comfortable with conflict till death do you part. The same will be true with your teams in work. I see this every, freakin’ magic and conflicted day.
John and Julie Gottmann, the most respected relationship psychologists on the planet, have some freakin’ magic to offer all of us who want a few transformational relationships in our work and life. I’ve paraphrased their top 5 ingredients for keeping your perpetual conflict from becoming gridlocked. Number 6 is my addition. This is helping me and my many relational conflicts. I do not have a shortage here. Do you?
1. Choose dialogue over creating distance. Problems are not self healing systems. They get deeper and wider when we don’t talk about them. TALK. Yelling, my friends, does not count as talking. Talk. Finish your conversation with “play it back.” You’ll be surprised how little is heard, at least the way it’s intended. STOP the gossip. Stop the backchannel bullshit. Talk to the person with whom you’re conflicted. Assume the best. Emotions are contagious. Be calm, first, if your aim is to regulate the room. Simple. Real. Hard. Work.
2. See the problem as separate from your partner/teammate. This perspective keeps us hopeful. Do you see it?
3. Stop “either or” thinking. Every problem has multiple solutions. Remember the power of “anding.”
4. Perpetual conflict is part of life. 69% of your conflict is gridlocked. Accept this fact. Peace is still possible. Joy as well. Our problem is we overly identify with our perspective and under value our partners. Vow to flip this. Try overly identifying with your partners point of view.
5. Find the humor. Remember, we either “laugh or loathe.” Practice laughing at yourself, first and foremost.
6. If your name is on the building (if you are the Boss), you cause 10x the conflict outside your awareness. You, leader, are clueless. Next to nobody that works for you will confirm this to your facee. Your words are a weapon. Do not spray them around unless they are laced with love and kindness. I will illuminate this blind spot and it will hurt if you let it in. If you want a committed culture, leader, you must invite challenge, embrace conflict, be open to criticism, and understand that there are no equal partnerships. Leaders are held to a higher standard, at least the ones that lead teammates toward their committed best. Don’t settle for compliance. Most do. Normal.
God, help me apply this recipe. God, help me build more humility. God, help me have the courage to lead in forgiving and repairing. God, help me embody truth in LOVE – speaking and listening, please. God, help me lighten up and laugh. God, help me absorb more. God, help me realize how far I am from the mark.
God, help me…