Food For Thought

I am constantly trying to increase my awareness of what gives rise to disputes, and how we can best resolve them. I have set forth some of my thoughts and practices here:

  • Listen to the other person. Really listen. It is not easy to do.
  • Observe how you listen by becoming aware of how quickly and how often you interrupt a person who is speaking to you.
  • Observe how you listen by becoming aware of how often you interrupt someone to state your own viewpoints.
  • Consider how much you can remember about what a person has told you.
  • Try to see things from the other person’s perspective, hard as that may sometimes be. They may not see things the same way you do. One writer put it this way: our beliefs are just that, not facts, but simply our beliefs.
  • Just as people don’t always perceive things the same way when they happen, they also may not remember them the same way. This does not necessarily mean that they are lying.
  • Talk to the other person. We don’t do that enough any more.
  • Talk to the other person sooner rather than later. Perceived slights have a way of gaining in size and perspective far beyond what originally transpired.
  • In my experience, so many disputes are about a perceived lack of respect.
  • Treat the other person the way you would like to be treated.
  • Speak to other people the way you would like them to speak to you.
  • Take the venom out of your language.
  • Don’t say something to someone that you would not want someone to say to you.
  • Don’t say something in a way that you would not want it said to you.
  • Say something kind or complimentary when you can. Even if it is a small thing. Especially if it is a small thing. It costs you nothing, and it can have a big effect.
  • In my experience, people are more likely to be open and accepting of what you have to say if you are courteous and treat them with respect. If you are abusive, you are likely to put people on the defensive and they either clam up or counterattack. And once they go off on that road it is hard to get them back.
  • State when you agree with something that a person has said or a position they have taken. In my experience, people will more readily accept the fact that you disagree with them about some things if you don’t disagree with them about everything
  • Show an interest in the other party as a person. Make small talk. Sincere small talk. On subjects in which you both share an interest. Such as the weather. Or your family. Or your business.
  • Think about what is really important to you, what your actual interests are. Not your ego. Not getting back at the other person.
  • Give in where you can, especially where it does not matter to you. It may matter greatly to the other person, and can speed up the resolution process.
  • Think of ways in which the interests of both yourself and the other person can be met. A win-win. It does happen. More often than you might think. Particularly when both people make the effort.