“I get louder when I’m trying hard to get acknowledged and the other person isn’t hearing me. And then—I hate that I do this—I start to cry.”
So said one woman in a recent workshop, after I’d asked what kinds of things pressed participants’ buttons.
Another woman in the audience piped up in response and said, “But what if I don’t agree with what the other person’s said? Why should I acknowledge it and seem like a weakling?”
Ah. There we have it, a common error: Equating the acknowledgment of someone’s message with agreement on their opinion. Of all the things I hear people tell me escalate conflict, lack of acknowledgment is one of the biggest. So, if you tend to equate the two, listen up:
It’s a lot different to say, “It sounds like you’re pretty frustrated with the way we’ve been communicating” than “I agree that my communication has been poor.”
Most of us want to be acknowledged as reasonable humans…even when we’re not successfully acting so at that particular moment.