Conflict is a normal, and even healthy, part of relationships. And I was reminded yesterday of an interesting but unsurprising phenomenon – when you're in a situation of conflict, you and the other person or people probably won't communicate accurately.
In my experience, this lack of accurate expression and comprehension isn't malevolent, which is easy to assume. It's simply a reaction to the stress of conflict and the additional need to navigate an uncertain situation.
Speaker and corporate trainer Pamela Wigglesworth says conflict "causes many of us a great degree of discomfort, anger, frustration, sadness, and even pain." With that cocktail of emotions and the high levels of the hormone cortisol racing around our brains as a result, no wonder accuracy flies out the window.
Google "conflict resolution" and you'll find 1,000,001 different ways to manage conflict. I'll leave you to choose your method if you need to. The purpose of this post is to suggest one thing to do after you have faced a situation of discord, that may resolve things quite quickly (I'm talking as quickly as a matter of minutes).
As soon as practically possible, when the raw feelings caused by the experience have subsided, ask all parties if they are willing to talk again. If they are, find a calm, quiet space to do so. Ask each other what you said and what you heard. Say what you meant, ask what others understood and listen to each other.
What you will probably find is that people's stories about the situation are different because what has been heard and understood are different. Once you have a shared understanding, well, there may not be a conflict to manage after all.
The likelihood of a quick resolution will increase depending on the strength of your relationship and the amount of goodwill and generosity between the parties. A quick fix is not always the best fix, and you may have more work to do to create a lasting solution, but being sure you're on the same page must make for a good start.
Enjoy this great and funny talk on how to have a good conversation: