Interpersonal conflict resolution can be tricky. Changing your own behaviors in reaction to conflict is no less so.
Changing your interpersonal conflict behavior is a form of learning…you’re finding and learning new habits to replace ones that aren’t as effective for you.
In one of my favorite books, The Art of Possibility (affiliate link), author and world renowned philharmonic conductor Ben Zander tells this story about his own learning:
“…I am reminded of a dispiriting moment in a cello lesson with my teacher, Mr. Herbert Withers. He was eighty-three years old, and I was eleven. I had to tried to play a passage, but I couldn’t make it work. I tried again, and it didn’t work, and a third time, and I was no more successful. I remember making a frustrated grimace and putting down my bow. The elderly Mr. Withers leaned over me and whispered, What? You’ve been practicing it for three minutes, and you still can’t play it?“
In a quick-fix culture, you’ll need patience with yourself as you seek to change your interpersonal conflict reactions and learn replacement habits. You’ll also need kindness directed inward as a replacement for the kind of self-chastising I hear from some clients.
Instead of I’m not handling this very well, try Good! I’m noticing where I’m starting to get hooked by the conflict. What am I noticing?
Instead of I blew it again, try What did I learn about myself just now?
Instead of I feel like I’m not getting any better at this, try If I were as patient with myself as I am with my child/dog/partner/customers, what would I tell myself?
Instead of It’s a lot of pressure to change my reaction, try What would happen if I refused the gift of pressure right now?