The following principles are fundamental to my work with clients who are experiencing conflict or tension in important ongoing personal or professional relationships — teams, business partners, and couples, as well as individuals seeking to address a difficult dynamic or refine conflict resolution habits.
Aim for buffering, not preventing
Robust disagreement is a hallmark of creative, effective workplace teams. Couples can have big fights and frequent conflicts yet still have healthy, fulfilling, and lasting relationships. It’s not discord itself that determines if the relationship survives and thrives; it’s how you disagree.
Attend to the space between
The space between is the figurative terrain between you and them. Think of it as a buffer that protects the personal or professional relationship from the negative effects of conflict. Tending to the space between is instrumental in the relationship’s sustainability.
An equal human, not a difficult one
As psychologist Jeffrey Kottler has said, every person you fight with has many other people in their life with whom they get along quite well. If you want to examine a person who seems difficult to you, you must also examine yourself.
It’s a messenger, not a pathology
Conflict is not an inability to get along or be a team player. Anger is not a personality flaw. Conflict and anger are messengers; they are trying to convey something important. When you learn to notice the signal and translate the message, the messenger can leave.