I have had the opportunity to present to a couple of groups lately on the topic of conflict management. Part of the presentation focused on how we, as individuals, need to be mindful, first and foremost, of how we manage conflict. It is always so easy to blame deteriorating conversations on the other person. Each time I prepare and present I am reminded, again and again, on how I fall short in my abilities to manage conflict in my own life. I would like to think that by the time you reach the half century point in your life that there might be less and less need to manage conflict. But, unfortunately, that is not the case. I suppose conflict will be part of any relationship we have, so how we manage conflict becomes so much more important.
Met a close friend this week and was, again, amazed at the kind and gentle spirit he has. Made me envious. In spite of being bombarded by topics of religion, politics and taxes his emotions stayed on an even keel. Me, on the other hand, jumped in with both feet. To what end? Nothing was gained and nothing was won.
When I am approached by others my defenses always seem to be at the forefront. When I try to communicate effectively I have a tough time trying to express my feelings in such a way that others are not hurt by my words. When I disagree with someone I have a difficult time with the tone in my voice.I become agitated. And as most people that know me can attest to, I can become quite animated and vocal when I communicate, particularly when the topic is religion, politics or taxes. An interesting fact. Communication consists of 7% verbal, 35% tone and 58% body language. Trust me. I am very transparent in my communication. Sometimes to a fault.
What is it in us that wants to win at all costs, go for the throat, land the last blow. I know that for me I need to constantly be retooling my conflict management style. If only it came a little easier. If only I could present in such away that other people would engage and not become defensive. Effective communication is key to maintaining and building relationships. I need to be more mindful of the saying “effective communicators listen more than they talk”. And most of all I need to be more mindful of the serenity prayer. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can and Wisdom to know the difference.” Make it a good one.