One of the first steps in becoming a better fighter is increasing self-awareness.
Wow… this really rings of a wax-on-wax-off kinda talk, doesn’t it, grasshopper?
Imagine any scenario where you’ve had friction with someone… inevitably the human instinct is to defend ourselves by either assigning blame to the other person or at the very least, avoiding the blame yourself.
But, a surefire way to fan the flame of disagreement is to jump right to what the other person did/said wrong and working out your rebuttle or defense to their incorrect conclusions.
The best way to start a healthy resolution is to take a moment (whether it’s in the span of a deep breath or you take a step back from the scenario for a small period of time) to reasonably and honestly assess where you are – what you’re feeling, how you’re perceiving the situation, how you’ve filtered the words/actions that have occurred and how you play a role in things.
Even in a situation where you’re truly blameless – and that IS possible – you still play a ROLE.
Let’s back up for a moment.
Communication is a tricksy thing. Were it so simple… as just two people exchanging information/opinions. But, alas… it’s so much more complicated. Every time we send a message to someone (verbally or even non-verbally), we first run it through our own personal filter to decide how to say it, what words/postures to use. Then we pass it through the space between us which is full of external noise – physical noise and the “noise” of our lives that interfere with listening. Then, the receiver hears it through his OWN lens – his own filter of HIS thoughts, opinions, worldview, mood at the time, etc. And then he has to decode what you’ve said. Which means – you guessed it – a whole other filter of how well he knows you, what he believes about you, what he perceives as your motives, etc.
With all of this in place, it’s truly a wonder – perhaps even a miracle –
that communication ever occurs at all!
So – at the VERY least, we can do two things:
– recognize and understand the process – what’s a play in any given interaction, and
– analyze ourselves in the moment to see how we’re participating.
Therefore – today’s task… begin to know YOUR filter.
Your filter consists of lots of things. Everything you hear, see, feel or percieve at all – comes through your personal lens which consists of your:
– childhood history (What kind of childhood did you have? What roles did you see portrayed in your family? What sorts of issues did you have with siblings/parents? Was there any trauma and how was it dealt with?)
– relational history (What kind of relationships have you had (with same and opposite gender)? What are your beliefs about men/women?)
– personality (are you introverted? extroverted? analytical? logical? follow-your-gut? detail-oriented? quick-to-anger? passionate? tender-hearted? quiet? gregarious? easily hurt? ambitious? spontaneous? …the list goes on and on)
– worldview/beliefs/faith (what is it you believe? how do you ‘read’ the world around you? do you believe in any other forces at play (God, karma, etc.)? do you believe people are inherently good? or that we are all untrustworthy until proven otherwise?)
– cultural bearings (does your culture value honesty and authenticity? Did your family put the focus on honor/dishonor? Was privacy/keeping to yourself a value you learned or were you taught to be open with your feelings?)
– mood (what is your general temperament? are you typically peaceful? depressed? cheerful? optimistic or pessimistic? moody? laid-back? Even though our moods fluctuate all the time, most people have a typical pattern of mood/outlook on life)
– physical considerations (do you have chronic pain? fatigue? are you high-energy? high blood pressure? )
– priorities/preferences (what do you like to do? how do you like to be and spend your time?
There are certainly lots of other factors that play into our personal filters, but you get the idea. Once you spend the time learning yourself and what lens through which you sense the world around you, it will make communication that must more easy.
So often, when we’re in conflict, we seek out OUR truth – not THE truth.
Winning over finding the truth.
The problem is that we want to stay in OUR reality – OUR perception, rather than recognize that our perception may be a skewed version of reality.
Once we can see how we’re doing that, we’ll be one step closer to landing in the same place as our ‘opponent.’
Brad and Lisa narrowly escape a car accident and are pretty shaken. Lisa starts crying, mostly out of relief and the adrenaline rush. Brad quietly tells Lisa to “calm down.” In his mind, he’s trying to comfort her and help her get back to a peaceful place. Maybe his mom used to shh him, hug him and whisper, “calm down, sweetie…it’s ok.” So, he’s thinking he’s being tender. Lisa, on the other hand, was in an abusive relationship before this one, where the guy was overly critical and angry and was always putting her town, telling her to “chill out,” and “not act crazy.” So, when SHE hears, “calm down,” it feels superior and condescending. Even critical. She feels hurt that Brad isn’t letting her have a moment of emotional release and cries harder. He’s confused by her reaction…. aaaaaaaand…. conflict.
Now, if each of them would take a moment to assess where they are, what they believe to be true about themselves and the other, they can fix this easily and quickly.
But, do you see how the filter can determine our perceptions? Neither person here did anything ‘wrong’… they just viewed one phrase very differently.
So – step one toward more healthy conflict resolution is to take a look at your own self …. know yourself… know your filter… and be ready to USE that information next time there’s friction on the scene.
Coming up in this series…
– Body language – how our non-verbal communication says WAY more than our mouths ever do.
– Active listening – the difference you can make by understand what this truly means and doing it.
– separating the people from the problem – Negotiation 101
– the silent treatment, gaslighting, passive aggression – and other toxic tools
– anger and other cover emotions
– the art of the apology
– forgiveness – the master cleanse