In How to win an argument: Part One we shifted the focus away from right and wrong, to: “I want you to understand what I need.”
In order to share what you need, your first step is to identify your feelings and the situation that created them. When you express your needs, the other party can address them, instead of making assumptions based on your behavior. Here are some tips on expressing yourself:
TRUST – Sharing your point of view allows insight into your vulnerabilities. Strength is putting yourself out there, and telling others about your thoughts.
Try filling in this sentence: “I am [feeling] because [situation] and I need [their action] while I [your action].”
Example 1: “I am feeling sad because my friend died and I need your support while I grieve.”
Example 2: “I am feeling confused because I have been depressed lately and I need you to give me time while I get help.”
Example 3: “I am feeling frustrated because I don’t feel heard and I need you to listen while I tell you what happened.”
KINDNESS – First, be kind to yourself. You don’t have to have all the answers. We will make mistakes, we will fail ourselves and those we love. We can change and we can treat each other better. Even if you want to meet someone’s needs, sometimes that is not possible. Admit that you are not able to address a need and be open to outside help.
Edit yourself when speaking during conflict. Ask yourself whether your statement is an attack, meant to hurt the other party. Anger is the reaction to an emotion; what is the underlying emotion? Instead of attacking the other party, address why you are angry.
RESPECT – We cannot force others to change. You do not have to share another’s feelings or beliefs in order to reach an agreement. Acceptance of another’s feelings and beliefs, however, is paramount to conflict resolution.
Try filling in this sentence: “As a [position], my rights and responsibilities in this situation are…”
Example 1: “As a roommate, my rights and responsibilities in this situation are to live here and pay my portion of the rent and utilities.”
Example 2: “As a parent, my rights and responsibilities in this situation are to spend time with my child and make decisions about their life, and to provide support for their needs.”
Example 3: “As a husband, my rights and responsibilities in this situation are to know about my wife’s financial activity and share information about my finances.”
In conclusion, when you communicate with purpose, resolving conflict is possible. If you need assistance in reaching resolution, a mediator can help.