Conflicts are characterized by the involvement of two people. They are also particularly difficult to resolve exactly because a second person is involved that happens not to see eye to eye with us. What a trap that seems, isn’t it?
There is a secret process that can help you transform the conflict all on your own. The concept behind this process is that the tension created in the conflict is kept in place by the contribution of both parties involved. This implies that if the quality of the energy of one of the two parties changes, the quality of the tension held between the parties will inevitably change.
It can be enough to change slightly your perspective towards a conflict to notice a change in the kind of energy between you and the other party in conflict with you.
To change your perspective doesn't mean to give up your position and agree with the other party. Truth is that between the black and white perspective far too often assumed within a conflict, there are infinite nuances of grey. In these nuances there is a treasure of lessons that can be learned, creative solutions that can be found and insight that can be mined.
I recently had myself an experience of conflict where I used this very process to single handedly come out of it.
As it often happens to all of us, I got triggered. I didn't expect it to happened and when it happened it hit me hard, for a day or two I couldn't escape this feeling of conflict.
Then I felt deeply how the pain and the anger were not helping me to feel better or to find a solution for the problem at hand. Then I remembered this process and I decided to apply it.
It all start by recognizing what was my judgment about the other I was in conflict with and the quality I needed to see instead.
In my case I was judging someone for being detached instead of being involved.
You may not resonate with what I judge and what I praise and the reason is that we are all different and most importantly situations are different. There are situation where I find detachment a really appropriate response, the specific one that I am putting under the magnifying lens today required involvement in my opinion.
To simplify and make my example more understandable I will still stick to:
I was judging detachment
I was praising involvement
This means that involvement is a quality, something I live to have in myself and appreciate in other, part of my dominant set op personality traits.
Detachment on the other side is judged, not appreciated and a disowned aspect of my personality.
The next step is to look for the turn-around, the other side of the moon. The idea is that every quality is neutral in essence and that a positive or negative feeling we may develop around that quality has to be related to our experience with that quality.
For example aggressiveness as an energy can become assertively when cleaned up of the negative association. Laziness can become the ability to relax, being messy can become being spontaneous etc.
In the same way positive quality can be taken to the extreme and become less desirable. For example gentleness can become passivity, helpfulness can deteriorate in victimhood or friendliness can turn into intruding.
First I find the extreme of the quality that I experience as positive in this situation: involvement. Too much involvement in this specific situation would be control.
Then I find the opposite of control. This is not based on a fixed list of qualities and their opposite, it is more based on a feeling, what feels like the opposite for you in that specific situation. For me personally, the opposite of control would be trust.
Now if this worked I can close the circle and find that trust taken to an extreme would be the quality I was judging in the first place: detachment. From my perspective it worked as, in this specific situation, I feel that an excess of trust would feel like detachment.
The treasure to be found here is that trust is also the key, the solution that I have been looking for. Trust is the quality I can focus on to feel better and look differently at the conflict. When I can focus on trusting more I can step out of the conflict and look more clearly at the situation. I sense now what are my needs in the situation and what are the action that I need to undertake.
Trust allows me, in this specific situation, to realize that it is not simply the tension between me and the other party that counts, but that I can trust on the support of more parties to find a solution.
I also notice that me being triggered means holding on to the tension keeping the conflict alive and doesn’t help me or anybody else. I can choose to let it go. I still feel it, and I still don’t like the way the other party is behaving, however, I feel now unstuck and more free to consider more aspects of the situation.
The model I used is called ‘core quadrant’ and is develop by Daniel Ofman.