Hi everyone! Last time we were discussing validating our own emotions and how to validate someone else’s. We saw that validating emotions is very important, so now I’d like to continue by bringing in two other related elements: Arguments and compromises.
It’s not difficult for an argument to become heated, giving us a kind of tunnel vision. We get very involved in trying to prove that we’re right and sometimes we say things that we come to regret. If we want to lessen stress and prevent escalation, reciprocal validation comes in handy! In situations like these the goal is to maintain and affirm our own needs while not attacking the other person. To do this I once again recommend acknowledging the other persons’ opinion, thoughts, feelings and needs. It’s difficult to be empathetic in an argument but to prevent and lessen confrontations, maintaining empathy is essential. It can help to remember that the other person is likely to be feeling the same way as you. You both have a take on something and believe that you’re right and your own emotions and needs take the front seat.
Components of Validation for Conflict Management
For the sake of organization and clarity I’ve divided these strategies into larger groupings. Each represents a component that facilitates resolution. Before we jump in though I’d like to begin with a suggestion to help your mindset. Mindset determines everything, which means that getting yourself into the best state you can already determines a portion of the outcome.
Mindset and Important Realizations:
- Arguments can quickly become heated and you’re likely to have your buttons pushed. It’s understandable to react with anger but we know that this doesn’t end well. When confrontation occurs our best ally is calm. It sounds crazy right? To be calm during an argument…but it makes a tremendous difference. Staying calm in the face of whatever is thrown at you is difficult but it’s the cornerstone to a civil argument. Why? Because wouldn’t it be so much better if it wasn’t an argument and was instead a discussion involving disagreement? That’s what calm, composure and self-control can bring us. We can all see the hitch; the other person may be the exact opposite of calm! The answer isn’t to change them or their reaction because we can’t, (more on this soon), but we can control and direct our role.
- Respect may be far from our minds, but I encourage us to remember that everyone deserves it. Even if our opinion is a polar opposite!
- We can’t change people! We know this of course, but it certainly doesn’t stop us from trying. The best we can hope for is to communicate our view to the best of our ability to give the other person everything they need to understand our position. No more, no less. Think of it this way: Imagine you’re hoping to convince someone of something. You want to include all the facts and details the other person needs to make their own informed decision. You can’t force them to change their mind or see things your way, but you can come up with the most effective and compelling ‘arguments’. The rest is not in your hands.
- That brings me to viewing an argument as a debate rather than a confrontation. A debate involves respect, civility, and an equal opportunity for both sides to express their views. The problem with arguments is that they become personal, unlike a typical debate. The discussion isn’t a debatable point, it’s about an emotional need, a ‘wrong’ that has been done to us, etc. It’s not
Give the Person Time to Express Themselves:
- Truly pay attention to what the person has to say through ‘active listening’. It entails being in the moment and absorbing their words rather than thinking through what you want to say when they’re done.
- Try not to be interruptive; remember that you wouldn’t like it if they interrupted you, so give them their rightful air time. The other person will appreciate this and it sets a good example for when it’s their turn to listen to you.
- If you’re not clear on something ask them to clarify for you. A pitfall to this kind of dialogue (and any dialogue) is misunderstanding so it helps for everyone to understand the situation and each others’ points.
- Acknowledge their position, especially when it comes to emotions. We may not agree with someone’s take on something but we shouldn’t diminish how the situation is making the other person feel. They are equally entitled to their emotions.
- Thank the person for sharing their views and emotions. Demonstrate that you appreciate their willingness to have a mature and level-headed discussion. (This is key even if you hate what they’ve been saying.)
- Take the time to express that you understand and appreciate their perspective.
Ensure That you too Have Time to Express your View:
- Assert yourself politely by demanding the same respect that you showed the other person. This is cordial give and take.
- When phrasing your view, avoid accusations by using personal language. Here are some examples:
“I think that …”
“I see it as …”
“When you said […] it made me feel like […]”
“When I said […] I meant that …”
“Maybe I took this in a way you didn’t intend, but …”
“I’m sorry […] made you feel […], my intention was …”
“I feel that you may not entirely understand where I’m coming from.”
“I understand/appreciate that you feel […] but on my side…”
- If you know the person very well it’s pretty easy to say things that turn out to be ‘below the belt’. Remember that the goal is resolution, not to attack.
- Stick with pertinent arguments and avoid tangents. It helps to keep things simple by boiling everything down to your main points.
- Be reasonable. This is a hard one because we think we’re absolutely right…right? Seriously though, asking someone to give up everything with nothing in return is unrealistic and can be unfair.
- Continuing with the above, orchestrate a way in which you both get something you want.
- Know what you want/need prior to the discussion. The clearer you are on your points and what you wish to get out of the talk the better it will go. Clarity and simplicity are friends!
- Sometimes it helps to strive for improvement of the situation, and not perfection.
When Things Just Aren’t Working:
- If the person is having difficulty expressing, encourage them by being patient and giving them time.
- If things are becoming too adversarial, consider coming back to the discussion at another time. You could say something like; “I think this is maybe the wrong time to talk about this. Would you like to talk about it […]? Maybe we both need some time to think and calm down.”
- If the person is yelling, interrupting, etc., try not to descend to the same level. Keep cool, calm and rational. If the other person is losing their head ensure to keep your own! Remind them gently that it’s your turn to speak and that you’ve listened to their view with respect; you expect the same in return.
- If you feel like you’ve done your best, there’s no use in ‘beating a dead horse’. (What a horrible expression.) Sometimes the only thing we can do is walk away.
I hope you found ‘Validating Emotions for Conflict Management’ helpful! If you want to catch up and learn about validating your own emotions and how to be there for someone else, you may like this article.
Have a lovely remainder of the week… I think April has wonderful things in store for us!