Anyone who has small children, had small children, or been around small children kjnows–the little ankle-biters are REALLY self-absorbed. I mean, sometimes I feel I could be bleeding-out after being hit by a truck only to look up and see my six-year old ask, “Mommy, you can’t die–who’s going to make dinner?!”
The good news is, most of us outgrow this. The bad news is, some of us don’t.
When it comes to conflict resolution, those of us who are still very self-absorbed can run into a major roadblock. After all, how can we resolve a conflict when we’re only thinking about ourselves? And, just as important, how can we come to an understanding of the problem if we don’t understand what motivates the other person?
I came across a conflict resolution video the other day that seemed to speak to this, and here’s what the speaker suggested: When you’re trying to resolve conflict, take a moment and learn three things about the other person(s) involved–circumstance, temperament, and background.
Circumstance–With what is the person currently struggling? Are there external factors at play? What are his/her life circumstances that may have contributed to the conflict?
Temperament–Is this person amicable, in general? Does this person have a “short fuse?” What are his/her triggers?
Background–What may have happened in the past that shaped this person? What kind of family-of-origin does he/she have? Were there any traumatic events that influence this person?
When, and ONLY when, you understand these three things about the other person can you really resolve the conflict. And, for us mediators, learning these three things about each party at the table is sure to help move things along.
So, next time you’re at the bargaining table, the mediation table, or even the dinner table, learn these three things about the person across the way. You just may find resolving conflict is a whole lot easier when you know you’re audience!