Resolving Conflicts
STEP 4. Tell your stories, gain an understanding of the issues
By definition, a conflict contains conflicting views of what has happened. You see it one way, the other person sees it another. And, of course, our version is the true version. Understand that
the truth in any conflict is an illusion, as both parties see their version of what happened as "the truth." Looking for "the truth" in their story is not as important as honoring their authenticity and understanding "their truth."
Stephen Covey in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People says "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
Ask the person to relate her side of the conflict. Then sit back, and listen. This is difficult because to actively and empathetically listen to someone, we have to suspend our version of the story and focus on theirs. Ask questions, and seek to understand why they see it that way without implying they are wrong.
Restate the key points and ask the person if you have heard them correctly. This is a critical step, because it will tend to defuse hostility.
Then tell them your story, and ask them to suspend judgment until you've finished. At this point, don't be afraid to show some vulnerability. If you think you may have erred, say so. When they can restate your key points, there should be more clarity of each other's issues and concerns.
As these stories are being told, listen for a preliminary vision of resolution. There is a tendency to rush in and resolve conflict before we ever have a real understanding of the underlying issues. Telling your stories and really listening will provide a framework for this understanding.
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