Do you ever avoid a sticky subject because you know it will erupt either into a heated argument or major meltdown? Oh, haven’t we all been there! Especially with that paranoid Aunt Thelma who finds an insult behind every compliment you’ve ever given her!
So then, are you wondering what you should do? Well, let me begin with . . .
What NOT to do first:
- Don’t come at them “guns blazing” (tone down any anger)
- Don’t let your anger, pride or fear close your ears (listen non-judgmentally)
- Don’t try to convince them of your point
- Don’t point out how wrong they are
- Don’t bring up examples of all their past failures
- Don’t overwhelm them with too many details or demands
Now, the real question . . .
What should you do?
- Ask questions
Is it really that simple? Well, yes and no.
Your questions need to:
- Focus on understanding more of the other person’s feelings and point of view
- Avoid sounding accusatory (For example, avoid questions that start with “why”)
- Involve open-ended responses vs. questions that require a simple “yes” or “no”
- Simply reflect what you’ve heard the other person say (it’s amazing how often this little tweak can change the course of a conflict)
I can’t promise you that if you use questions, you will avoid a conflict. But I do promise that if you use questions with a respectful attitude in times of conflict, it will deescalate the anger and frustration, as well as, increase the level of understanding. And that’s a benefit that no one can argue with!