Resolving Conflicts and Letting Go Power Struggles
It’s all too easy to fall into negative habits with the people you are closest to, or work closely with. Your spouse, your family, your co-workers. When you spend a lot of time with someone, and when you share common goals, a sense of mutual dependency tends to develop. In various ways, you may feel stuck in these relationships. Power struggles may emerge. When you find yourself arguing with your spouse about how he folds laundry, it’s not really about how he folds laundry. Yet each person digs in, determined to hold his or her ground. How do you break this exhausting cycle? Here are three suggestions:
3 Keys to Getting More Out of Your Relationships
See the other person’s point-of-view
In session, when one of my clients expresses a strong political opinion, I often use this exercise. I ask him to describe the opposing political viewpoint in as thoughtful and intelligent way as possible. People usually struggle with this. It’s human nature to reduce opposing viewpoints down to something seemingly less credible, less threatening. So consider the person with which you are experiencing tension. Can you thoughtfully put her viewpoint into words without reducing her down to a cartoon villain or unwashed idiot? Winning this argument is NOT about expressing your own POV yet again. This will only trigger shutdown, automatic push back. Listen first. Make the other person feel heard. Accurately reflect her viewpoint back to her. This establishes trust. Maybe then she will feel safer in opening up and considering your views. Either way, when you authentically consider an opposing view without rushing to defend yourself, you are deepening and clarifying your own views.