Module 1: How the View Explains our Differences

We can become stuck in our understanding of things without even acknowledging it. The first way we look at something is not always the only or ‘best’ way to look at it. The more viewpoints we have on a situation, the more possibilities we will see and the more creative we will be.

In the diagram above, where do you see the circle:

Different views 

An old story goes that five blind men went to see what an elephant was like. They discovered one and rubbed it all over. One discovered its swaying trunk. ‘It’s like a snake,’ he commented. Another discovered its tail. ‘More like a rope,’ he thought. A third brushed up against one of the elephant’s large ears. ‘It’s kind of like a fan,’ he explained. ‘No, like a pillar,’ the fourth said, feeling its strong leg. The last man leaned against the massive side of the elephant. He asserted, ‘It’s like a wall.’

Each of them saw the elephant from a different perspective and arrived at a different conclusion. That is the issue with differing points of view. You must examine something from every perspective if you want to get a true picture of it. Otherwise, as someone has said, if you keep to your own point of view, you will sit on the point and lose the vista.

We all have slightly different perspectives on life. Our early experiences, beliefs, and memories filter our view of the world. These filters enable us to deal with the two million bits of data that we are constantly bombarded with. It’s not possible to handle all of this information. As a result, we erase, distort, and generalise the data we get.

Nevertheless, many of us feel that the way we perceive the world is the way it is. It is your distinct point of view… it is the truth for you. Others will hold a different opinion. Their truth, while distinct from yours, is appropriate for them.

Your reality is not totality

We don’t have totality, of course. What we see and hear is subjective, incomplete, and prone to distortion. Until fifteenth-century explorers realised that we can sail to the East by sailing west, people thought the earth was flat. Albert Einstein’s teacher informed him when he was 10 years old that he would not amount to much. The founder of Daimler Motor Company, Gottlieb Daimler, predicted that the car would never catch on because there would never be enough chauffeurs. “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out anyway,” remarked the CEO of Decca Records, dismissing the Beatles.

Our perspectives are always limited by the glass through which we see our world and the filters that it imposes. We are, without noticing it, discounting something from the available options.

‘I wasn’t concentrating on what she was wearing.’

‘I had no idea you had such strong feelings for me.’

‘I didn’t hear him say it,’ says the narrator.

How much can you trust your experiences?

Is the Earth a sphere? It certainly appears to be the case. Is it still there? That’s how it appears. The astronomer, on the other hand, will inform us that we are whirling at thousands of miles per hour. Is that a solid chair you’re sitting in? It certainly seems sturdy when I press my hand against it. The physicist, on the other hand, will tell us that it is a moving bundle of energy.

Difficult people

Mike is a sharp thinker. Fiona thinks he’s rash, while Sarah thinks he’s abrasive. Who is this suspicious character? Is he a sharp thinker, rash, or abrasive in his actions? He can be any of the three, depending on the window and the perspective. They’re all just views, based on a skewed perspective and omitted data. Who is correct? No one and everyone.

A bucket of water can be a fish’s house, an elephant’s cool drink, or an ant’s lake. What you go through is a reflection of who you are. How much does it reflect on you if someone is difficult for you? Others, on the other hand, will not find such behaviour challenging… they will see it through a different lens. Maybe it’s because of who you are that people are difficult!

Who is right?

For some, fox-hunting is a sport, while for others, it is a form of killing. Everyone believes he is correct, and each viewpoint is correct for that individual. There is always more than what we are aware of at any particular time. To gain wisdom, broaden your perspective.

Can you see the hero?

It doesn’t mean something isn’t there just because you can’t see it. The stars are still visible when the sun rises, even though you can’t see them. This person may come out as obnoxious. Quickness to act lies beneath abrasiveness; this is a strength, even if you don’t recognise it. In his own story, any villain is likely to be a hero.

Recognise the positive intention

Conflict often arises from good intentions, when people believe they are doing the right thing but are actually doing it incorrectly. You advise your boyfriend to stop and ask someone after going around the block three times looking for a street… and the suggestion is turned down. Your partner heard an attack on his competency, despite the fact that you were merely attempting to help.

I’m concerned because you’re feeling suffocated.

You perceive me as aggressive because I am assertive.

I am principled; you may perceive me as obstinate.

You think I’m brutal because I’m ambitious.

Intent and impact

We are prone to making assumptions about people’s motives based on how their actions affect us. You intended to hurt me because I am hurt. I feel humiliated, therefore your goal was to embarrass me.

This isn’t always the case, however. When someone says, “But I was only trying to help you,” they are actually expressing a positive aim, even if your experience with them was bad.

Make no assumptions about other people’s intentions. You might want to presume the best, rather than the worst, about the person. He considers himself a hero. 

Recognise this: ‘I appreciate your willingness to assist, but I feel suffocated, and in the future I would like to…’ There’s a chance now that true understanding and partnership may emerge.

Declare your intention to be positive.

Consider what your true motivation is for saying or doing what you are about to say or do.

‘I’d like to clear up some misunderstandings and don’t want to waste your time…’ To improve cooperation, tell the truth in a way that the other person understands your good intentions.

Watch your language 

While I find you harsh, saying “You are aggressive” is unproductive and likely to cause conflict because it is not how you see yourself. ‘I am fast to act,’ says the view from your window. ‘You’ language is likely to be hostile. Talk about what you see through your window regarding the other person… and don’t expect them to see things the same way you do!

Do say


Opinions or facts?

‘We never have sex,’ Alvie Singer says in Annie Hall.

‘We’re always having sex,’ his girlfriend claims.

The therapist inquires, “How often do you have sex?” ‘Three times a week,’ they all say at the same moment.

We have a tendency to treat opinions as if they were facts when we are in a fight. Opinions are simply points of view, not right or wrong. They’re what you’re seeing through your window, which, of course, isn’t the same as what others are seeing through theirs. It’s a reality that you have sex three times a week. It’s a matter of opinion whether that’s too much or too little.

Don’t argue with perception

Truth or importance?

You’re going too fast.

I’m due for a raise.

These viewpoints are based on what is essential to you, not on what is factual. If you value different things, these opinions of mine will look ridiculous, and we will simply argue. When we argue, I am certain that I am correct, and this simply serves to divert my attention away from discovering your world. It isn’t a question of whether one point of view is correct and the other is incorrect; it is a question of whether both points of view are valid. One viewpoint is rarely sufficient.

People who operate under the mindset of “I am right” are more likely to perceive others as the source of their problems and to believe that they must change… they are the ones who are unreasonable, closed, and stubborn. In actuality, the arrogance of the “I am right” attitude is much more likely to exacerbate the problem.

Changing someone

Seeking to alter someone rarely generates results. Understanding is more likely to result in change. To want to alter someone suggests that there is something wrong with them, which, of course, leads to defensiveness and dispute. Seeking to comprehend implies that the other person is well in her perception of the world. This is the mindset that allows people to work together and solve problems together.

Rather than judge behaviour, connect with needs.


Blame focuses on who was right and who was wrong in the past. You could want to keep your attention on the future and how to resolve the situation. Where would you rather spend your energies if your dog went missing… Is it more important to hunt for the dog or to argue over who left the gate open? When we are accused, we are more likely to waste time arguing than fixing problems. Make sure you don’t make the other person look bad.

Sense and nonsense

We tend to share our ideas, utilise the word “should,” and give advice when we argue.

‘You should be more considerate,’ says the narrator.

‘Take it easy.’

‘If only you weren’t so self-centred.’

These suggestions and comments are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of your thinking. Your experiences, views, and concerns will lay beneath the surface, undetected, from which you will construct these ideas and suggestions. They are completely understandable to you.

They are, however, nonsensical to someone with a different set of experiences, beliefs, and values. Of course, depending on their values, views, and experiences, this person will provide different perspectives and suggestions.

When we debate, we are most often only scratching the surface of the iceberg, exchanging opinions and ‘shoulds.’

Exploring the hidden portions of other people’s icebergs, their thoughts, feelings, and intentions, is what understanding is all about. It’s all about them looking into stuff about themselves that they have access to but you don’t. People are drawn together by understanding rather than by arguing. You could want to add to a viewpoint rather than contradict it.

Module 2: Differences in Personality

Sarah and Mike are on their way to a business meeting along the highway. “Would you like to stop for a coffee?” Sarah says to Mike. He honestly responds, “No thanks.” As a result, they didn’t.

Mike ultimately senses the vibe that develops between them. “Is there anything wrong?” he inquires. “Yes, I’d like a coffee,” she says, and he responds, “Well, why didn’t you say so?”

Styles of Communication

Sarah did say such, but in a veiled manner. Mike, on the other hand, speaks in a more direct manner, and he heard a question from him rather than a request from her. Mike has a hard time understanding Sarah. Mike is incomprehensible to Sarah. It’s as if they don’t even communicate in the same language… They definitely communicate in different ways.

Despite the fact that we share the same mother tongue, English, we speak different languages. Although French, English, and Italian have the same alphabet, they are all distinct languages.Conflict often happens because we are not aware we have different styles of communication, in effect that we speak different languages.

The four types of personality

Dr. Carl Jung investigated personality types in the 1920s and identified four fundamental styles. This provides a simple model for understanding why people are perceived as different from one another and as challenging for one another. Hundreds of thousands of people from various cultures, both East and West, have confirmed variations of his approach.

Each of the four personality types has a distinct way of looking at the world and communicating with others. They each have a preferred language. According to studies, those who are fluent in all four languages have the best rapport and the least disagreement. People who are rigid and committed to their own way of doing things are perceived as tough and a cause of conflict.

Difficult people are usually inflexible people

Go-Getter – Mike 

Mike is motivated by a desire to succeed, to do tasks swiftly and efficiently. He despises it when individuals squander his time or take too long to get to the point. He didn’t want to be associated with being gullible or indecisive. His communication style is straightforward and practical.

His energy level is intense and a little ‘in your face.’

Mike is direct and to the point. He isn’t afraid to say what he thinks. If something isn’t going to work, he says so without trying to be sensitive to other people’s feelings. A defect is still a fault, and a spade is still a spade. What’s the point of wasting time on it? As a result, he doesn’t. If his coworkers keep talking about it, he switches off.

Mike is a results-oriented person. He feels good about himself in this way. He’s a ‘get it done,’ ‘no issue’ kind of guy. He is more of a doer than a thinker or a talker. He is decisive, and even if his decisions aren’t always the finest, you’ll often hear him comment, “You win some, you lose some.” He considers indecision to be a decision, and a bad one at that!

He is a deadline-driven person who enjoys getting a lot done in a short amount of time. He doesn’t have time for small conversation and prefers to get right to the point when he calls. Individuals who make excuses or give long explanations are not tolerated by him, and he wants people to keep their personal problems at home. Listening to people’s issues is difficult for him.

He wants others to be direct, decisive, to go right to the point, and to focus on the end result. He admires people that act quickly, take chances, and achieve great things. Success, power, and speed are important to him.

Others on Mike’s team see him differently. While Mike sees himself as enterprising, persuasive, and determined, as well as a bit of an entrepreneur, others on his team perceive him differently. He is arrogant, rude, inconsiderate, and pompous, according to Sarah. Darren, on the other hand, sees him as arrogant, rigid, obstinate, and harsh, while Fiona sees him as unprincipled, impulsive, and a risk taker.

Carer – Sarah 

Sarah is a sweet, warm, and nice personality. She is gentle, humble, and reserved. She is prone to taking other people’s difficulties personally and enjoys assisting them. Sarah places a high value on her relationships. She is an excellent listener and generous with her time. She feels obligated to volunteer for jobs that no one else is interested in. She despises all forms of disagreement and strives tirelessly to maintain team cohesion.

She has a soft, low-key demeanour toward others and enjoys being accommodating. She rarely criticises others and is usually effusive with her compliments.

She doesn’t want to come out as obnoxious, inconsiderate, or self-centred. She is afraid of upsetting others, therefore she avoids being too straightforward. She frequently stays silent in meetings rather than expressing her displeasure. This, she understands, can be construed as approval.

Mike, she believes, takes advantage of her pleasant personality and readiness to please. He assigns her the less important tasks, and she resents being dumped on.

She has worked for the same company for 15 years and is well-known by the majority of the employees. Of course, the biggest reason is that she takes the time to listen and inquire about the people and their families, demonstrating genuine compassion for them.

She specialises at establishing a two-way communication channel with her team and motivating them to work together in a cooperative, harmonic manner. People respect her and recognise that she cares about them and their problems.

Her thoughtfulness, loyalty, cooperative spirit, and sensitive, kind disposition are admired by many. Mike, on the other hand, sees her as naïve and submissive, Fiona as overbearing and irrational, and Darren as hypersensitive and submissive.

Mike accuses her of being too soft with people and spending too much time with them. “Your time is money, and you are squandering it.” He believes she should be more business-oriented rather than people-oriented. When she accepts responsibility for problems, he becomes enraged.

Sarah thinks Mike is arrogant, even aggressive, and she doesn’t think his callous attitude pulls the best out of people. He dismisses her efforts to bring individuals together to make them feel like a team. Mike is someone she would not want to socialise with outside of work, and she realises she will have to work hard to tolerate him as a coworker.

Fiona is analytical

Fiona is a perfectionist who prioritises getting things right over caring or achieving success. She is meticulous in her job and pays close attention to the smallest details. She is a risk-averse person who is fair and principled.

She has a knack for creating extremely efficient systems that yield consistent results. As a result, she is accused of over-regulation and a “do it by the book” approach. She keeps a tight grip on the situation. She is hesitant to delegate or provide power to others because she is concerned that they will not meet her high standards.

Fiona, although not being a people person, dislikes it when people are treated unfairly. She is a cautious person who would rather not make a decision than make a bad one. She has flow charts, check lists, and data inventories plastered on her wall.

Mike is irritated by her attitude of “better safe than sorry.” He considers her a nitpicker who is slow and pedantic. He bemoans her pessimism, often pointing out flaws and potential disasters.

He claims it’s as if she’s programmed for the working day every morning… She never deviates from the norm. Her movements could be used to set your watch. “She wouldn’t need a list if she spent as much time accomplishing as she does making lists.”

Mike should put everything in writing for Fiona and allow her time to reflect. He anticipates a prompt response from her. She becomes irritated when he assigns her work at the last minute and expects it to be completed on time. Mike is viewed by her as hasty, compromising on principles, and a gambler.

Fiona doesn’t require compliments and can easily become patronised. Sarah is hesitant to work for her because she is quick to criticise and slow to praise. Fiona is a solitary individual who prefers to be alone. Sarah frequently criticises her for not being a team player and for her indifference to other people’s problems. Sarah finds her difficult to connect with, describing her as restrained, chilly, and unfriendly. Sarah invites her to staff social events on a regular basis, and if she does not decline, she will be the first to depart. It’s as though she doesn’t require the company of others.

Sarah’s decisions, which are based on intuition and sentiments rather than logic and evidence, make Fiona sceptical. Sarah, she believes, promotes dependency by being overly willing to help people. She believes that by doing so, people will be unable to learn from their mistakes.

Fiona is not tolerant of any kind of sloppiness. She’ll even make a big deal about a misplaced comma in a report. People claim that she always finds a flaw in everything, that everything is either black or white, right or wrong for her.

Darren considers her unimaginative, rigid, humourless, and tunnel-visioned at times. He wishes she was more adaptable and open to new ideas. 

Socializer – Darren 

Darren is a laid-back, easygoing individual who is willing to accept delays, schedule modifications, and new ways of doing things. He is a cheerful, upbeat individual who enjoys a little thrill. He’s a bit of a free spirit who doesn’t always follow the rules.

He enjoys having others in the team discuss with him and does not want to be perceived as stiff, inflexible, or narrow-minded. He enjoys diversity and prefers things to be unique. He gets bored quickly.

Darren is frequently in the spotlight. He dislikes being bound by procedures and becomes agitated during extended sessions. He is a daydreamer who sees beyond the ordinary and realistic. He prefers to focus on broad generalisations over specific facts. When new ideas are brought to him, he is open-minded and frequently changes his view.

When Darren first started at the workplace, he requested flextime to give him more control over his day. He didn’t want to be locked in a routine where every day was the same and he was forced to do what others expected of him rather than following his own path.

Darren is a visionary with a creative flair. He is able to function in a state of turmoil and confusion, and he is creative when it comes to issue resolution. People respect his capacity to manage multiple projects at the same time.

Darren is a happy-go-lucky guy who enjoys having a good time. He enjoys the company’s social events, where he blends in well and is frequently the life and soul of the party.

People admire his vigour, especially when the going gets difficult at work. He manages to find the silver lining in even the most hopeless circumstances. He has a way of igniting people’s excitement and making even the most trying situations enjoyable – “What good is fretting, simply enjoy it.”

Fiona may not always appreciate his witty outlook on life, and she does not share his philosophy that “work should be pleasurable.” Darren thinks aloud, laying out his thoughts. Fiona is irritated by this because she prefers well-thought-out and reasoned ideas.

She is irritated by his disorganisation and his ability to move from one issue to the next. She wishes he would use fewer superlatives and be less eccentric. He is flippant and superficial to her. She is critical of his meetings, which are frequently late, unorganised, and start late.

Darren wants her to loosen up and be more forgiving of others’ flaws. Her conservatism restricts him, and he considers her narrow-minded. He isn’t brought out to his full potential by her.

Mike thinks Darren’s insistence on consulting everyone is inefficient. He’s annoyed because Darren starts multiple projects at once and then abandons them to start new ones. Mike needs Darren to be more focused, more determined, and to make a decision and stick to it.

While Sarah likes and appreciates Darren’s company, she finds him careless and fickle, and she can’t always count on him.

Accommodating to the Style

So we have four people that are very different from one another and find it difficult to get along. It’s almost as though they’re from separate worlds. Why? Because they have different motivations, ideals, and personalities. Mike likes it when he can accomplish something, Sarah has to be concerned, Fiona is determined to get things right, and Darren enjoys diversity. Each has its own set of qualities, which other styles may perceive as flaws.

We are all driven by one or a combination of these main styles. We can use all of them at different times, but we feel most at ease and attractive when we utilise our own personal style.

It’s not like one path is correct and the others are incorrect. It is the fact that all styles are important and must be accommodated. You’ll be able to predict who will be tough for you and why others will find your behaviour challenging if you understand your drivers.

The ideals don’t have to be at odds; they can work together to create something powerful and effective. Mike’s determination, when joined with Sarah’s sensitivity, Fiona’s methodology, and Darren’s creativity, will be a formidable force in any organisation.

When people appreciate the value of each other’s style, this happens. We argue and fight in ignorant conditions. We are sure that we are correct and that the other is incorrect. We may also problem solve and use the strategies from module 7 to create win-win situations, dovetail strengths, and stand out.

Module 3: Fight the difference or celebrate it?

Conflict is more about style than substance, if conflict is truly helpful, how rows can spiral out of hand, and the three fundamental options for dealing with differences that lead to marital dissolution. How ‘shoulds’ can wreak havoc on relationships. A win-win situation is one in which both sets of wants are met.

Every day, we hear or read about war, bloodshed, divorce, and social instability in the media. If you ask your friends about their fights, disputes, and tough people, they will tell you about them. Your kids will squabble over the television, and you may have even encountered road rage.

Some people look for sparring partners because they regard conflict as a game, a combat sport. The smallest quarrel can damage others.

Is it unavoidable for conflict to arise? Is it possible to have a healthy relationship without conflict? Is it even possible to achieve harmony? Isn’t all conflict bad and should be avoided?

Differences don’t have to get in the way of progress

The inevitability of conflict

Simply because we are different, conflict is not inescapable. We can differ without getting into a fight. The style of conflict is more important than the substance. It occurs as a result of what we do and say in response to differences, rather than as a result of the differences themselves.

Starters of a conflict

Style, words, and emotional energy all have a role in the escalation or diffusion of conflict. There are several ways for a quarrel to escalate.

‘That’s typical of you.’

‘It’s no surprise you didn’t get the promotion.’ ‘You should be more proud of what you do.’ ‘How come you can’t be like your sister?’

• Blame

• Hostile words 

• Bring up the past 

• Blame 

• Accuse 

• Interrupt 

• Patronise 

• Contradict 

• Exaggerate Construct hypotheses 

• Don’t accept what the other person says; instead, use phrases like “you never…,” “you always…,” and “you should…”

Circumstances can make a conflict worse.

Issues that may be handled in minutes on a sunny beach on a relaxing vacation might turn out very differently if you’ve both had a long day, it’s late at night, and the kids won’t settle!

Things that can convert a minor quarrel into a huge one include:

• Tiredness

• Stress

• Insecurity

• Illness

• Mood

• Alcohol

The nature of conflict is complicated.

We may be debating money, but the actual problem may be one of control. That shoddy report that is late could be due to a lack of acknowledgment and a sense of being taken for granted.

When a tiny incident escalates into a large squabble, there is almost always a more serious, more complicated issue at hand. The screwdriver that was left in the wrong location, the toothpaste that was squeezed in the centre, the car that was parked at an angle… You suddenly feel as if you’ve stepped on a landmine — and you definitely have! The quarrel isn’t about the screwdriver or the automobile, but rather about a deeper unmet need… possibly to be appreciated, involved, and accepted.

Because the problem is disguised, we may not realise what is bothering us until we discuss it. People will continue coping with the symptoms, patching things up, becoming more frustrated, and growing apart until they talk about and find the underlying need.

It only aches a little.

Have you ever noticed how a minor graze or cut finger may be excruciatingly painful when you brush up against another person? It would have gone overlooked if it hadn’t been for the sore. When things are going well in life, we have a buffer that protects us from life’s minor hiccups. If the small disputes of life cause you a lot of pain, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for any other sores or larger issues.

Is it possible for conflict to be beneficial?

Many people believe that confrontation is both healthy and beneficial. While confrontation can open up new ideas and deepen understanding, it is usually damaging for most people.

A conflict is constructive only if the following outcomes occur: 

• The relationship is strengthened 

• You have a better understanding of each other 

• You are more willing to meet each other’s needs 

• You have increased trust 

• You have resolved the source of future conflicts there are broader perspectives

It is damaging to the relationship if the dispute leads to increased irritation, bad sentiments, and developing anger. You’ve put yourself in a rehabilitative scenario from which you must recover.

Rows can spin out of control in a variety of ways.

We don’t always notice the beginnings of a fight. It has the power to take us by surprise. Before you realise it, a spark has turned into a flame, and then into a fire, and you’ve lost control.

A minor disagreement over weekend plans can quickly escalate into personal insults, expand to include an attack on in-laws, and the couple is on the verge of breaking up.

Deal with the base of the issue rather than the symptoms.

(After a long day at work, Pete returns home late and exhausted.)

Kate: What have you been up to? You didn’t say that you were not coming in time. 

Pete: I’m not required to keep track of every second of my existence.

Kate: This is typical of you; you never think about other people.

Pete: You’re becoming more and more like your mother, nag nag nag nag nag nag nag nag nag nag nag nag nag nag nag nag nag I’m not sure why I bother to come home at all.

Kate: I feel the same way… you just sit in front of the computer and expect to be waited on.

Pete: You have no idea what you’re talking about.

Kate: You already know what your issue is…

(Pete storms out the door, slamming it shut and yelling.)

The path to disaster

Here are some of the stages that a relationship goes through before it ends.

1. Discussion

This occurs when both parties are curious about the other’s point of view and are willing to communicate their thoughts, opinions, and feelings. This stage is merely a meeting of minds with no attempt to persuade the other person to believe or feel otherwise.

• Respect for each other’s point of view 

• Acceptance of each other’s ideals 

• Expanding viewpoints are some of the characteristics.

2. Debate

When there are opposing opinions, I’d prefer you to see things my way, but only if it’s the best option for you.

• Receptivity to your ideas 

• Respect for your point of view are just a few traits to look for.

3.  Argument

Regardless of what you may believe, I want you to ‘purchase’ my ideas. I am ‘correct,’ and you are ‘incorrect.’ You should follow my instructions.

• Disrespect for others’ viewpoints 

• Arguing solely from one’s own point of view 

• Polarisation 

• A lot of ‘yeah buts…’

4. Conflict

Not only do I feel I am ‘right’ and you are ‘wrong,’ but I also expect you to act in accordance with my values and views.

• Requests that you behave in a certain way that I desire 

• Highly personalised arguments

• A lot of “should” 

• Blame, accusation, and belittlement

5. Breakdown

I need to defend myself or recuperate from the agony because the connection is now so difficult. As if you don’t exist, I act as if you don’t exist.

Silence, ‘cold war,’ and separate lives are some of the characteristics.

How far do you have to go through these stages to manage differences in an open and honest manner? You may discover that disagreements and beyond are indicators of a deteriorating relationship.

What options do you have?

Each of us is unique and special in our own way. We each have our own set of beliefs, values, and requirements. These variances naturally result in different perspectives, viewpoints, aims, and techniques. The more the disparities, the more difficult it can be to keep the partnership in harmony.

When it comes to dealing with differences, we have three options.

1. We have the option of discussing and debating our disagreements while respecting each other’s viewpoints.

2. We can debate about these disparities, i.e., we are certain that we are correct and that the other person should see things from our point of view.

3. By forcing our method of doing things, we can create conflict over these discrepancies.

What is the source of the conflict?

David delegated in a detailed, precise manner to Michael, insisting that he follow the methods that he has determined are correct. Michael is constrained and performs best when he is given the opportunity to be creative. He enjoys being given a task and the flexibility to execute it in his own way.


They have a disagreement. According to David, getting the task done right entails agreeing on and following protocols. Michael claims that processes limit his creativity and make him demotivated. Essentially, David desires something that Michael does not, and vice versa.

Why do you insist that I see what you see even though I don’t?


Arguing is a form of ‘intellectual’ activity. Conflict is a result of human behaviour. When David insists on his protocols being followed, it causes conflict because it prevents Michael from working in a way that is vital to him. This is an affront to Michael’s requirements. As a result, Michael will begin to feel less valuable, miserable, and unmotivated.


While the basis of the conflict is different – David requires procedures, while Michael needs creativity – the conflict is driven by hubris. Each believes he is ‘correct,’ that his method is the best, and that the other ‘should’ be like him. There would be no conflict if the other person shared your opinions, values, and method of doing things. ‘I want you to be like me… you should be like me,’ says the subtext around conflict. ‘I want you to adapt to me, my ways, and my standards,’ she says.

If you impose your values on others while ignoring their needs, you are causing conflict.

Others are causing conflict when they impose their values on you and refuse to meet your needs.

We may be unaware that we are depriving others of their basic requirements. We are more than likely to have a good aim and to be doing what we believe is “right” and “best.”

‘Shoulds,’ ‘rules,’ and ‘expectations’

When I use words like “you should,” “you ought,” and “you must,” I’m saying that my way is the best for you, that my ideals are more important than yours. This is both arrogant and disrespectful since it denies the other person’s right to have other values.

‘I expect you to be aware of my emotions.’

‘I expect you to seek my advice.’

‘I expect you to pay attention to what I’m saying.’

We have a tendency to expect people to value the same things we do. David values procedures, and he wants Michael to value them as well. Our expectations are shaped by our ideals and become our life’s ‘laws.’ We get into a fight when my expectations aren’t met or when my rules are broken.

Keep your eyes peeled for the word ‘should.’

If I believe my employer should back me up in front of others, I will have a disagreement with him if he criticises me in front of my coworkers. The tension is arising as a result of a misalignment between his actions and what I anticipate from him. Someone who expects the boss to be forthright in public if necessary has different expectations and will not be in conflict as a result of his or her behaviour.

Recognise the positive intention to reduce conflict.

Whose set of rules is correct?

Your rules are correct… they are correct for you, and they show you how to meet your requirements and obtain what you desire. However, what is important to you may not be relevant to others; their norms are appropriate for them. What will be ‘bad’ is imposing your norms on others and expecting them to follow them.

When both persons are striving to meet their own demands at the expense of the others, it’s called a win-lose situation. When both people work together to solve problems, all of their demands are addressed.

Who has the most knowledge?

While we are all “correct” in our expectations and needs, it is sometimes important for an experienced person (employer, parent, or teacher) to assess what is in the best interests of the other. This works best when there has been a discussion of needs and a mutual comprehension of each other’s perspectives.

Barry wanted to drop out of school and work as an auto mechanic when he was fifteen years old. His father, on the other hand, had a different opinion; he wanted him to attend university. Barry took some time to see things from a different perspective, but he now appreciates his father’s persistence. He now works as a vice president for a multinational firm.

Conflict resolution

Because conflict arises from a denial of people’s wants, a good reconciliation must include meeting those needs; otherwise, the conflict will simmer and re-ignite. Look for the win for the other if you want a long-term victory.

If Michael simply ignores David’s need for processes and does the task his way, his needs are met but David’s are not… it’s a win-lose situation, with Michael getting 10 points and David getting 0 points. This is a lose-lose situation, with 0 for Michael and 10 for David if David pulls rank and demands that Michael follow his processes regardless of his urge to be creative.

In both of these cases, the dispute remains unsolved and will go on, although beneath the surface, until a win-win solution is found.

Conflict that has been resolved in the unshaded area is likely to resurface since requirements are mostly unsatisfied. Try to reach an agreement with a score of 5/5 or above. While 100 percent satisfaction may not be achievable, aim for at least 50 percent satisfaction for both sides.

Take pride in your uniqueness

The view from your window is different, not better, not correct, but distinct. The difference does not have to be a conflict; it can serve as a springboard for new ideas. There is nothing wrong with you or me, but there could be something wrong between us. Rather than fighting the difference, embrace it.

Module 4: Are you building a bridge or a barrier?

Because of your conflict management approach, conflicts will either increase or de-escalate. What you say and do has an effect on others. Whether you defend, attack, withdraw, or placate, you have an impact on how the other reacts. It’s a dynamic moment, and the procedures you employ… the way you use your words and energy… affect the direction and eventual conclusion.

Is this the case?

We are becoming you and me.

You will establish affinity, rapport, and cooperation to the extent that you can translate me and you into we. If you don’t, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with division, frustration, and conflict.

People are frequently afraid of losing something significant to them when they are involved in a disagreement. They are on the defensive as a result of this perceived threat, and there is little likelihood of collaboration while it exists. If the threat, actual or imagined, is removed, a collaborative solution is more likely to be achieved.

To do so, concentrate on the other person and try to address their requirements.

This threat can be created by focusing on what you want regardless of the consequences.

The resolution mind set

It does not have to be a win-lose situation. You lose £10 if I win £10. You will only get a quarter of the cake if I have three quarters. If one person receives the promotion, the other is disadvantaged. This win-lose mindset forces you to adopt a competitive mindset and speak in a competitive manner.

This mindset is appropriate in athletics, but it can miss the mark when it comes to people. The win-lose strategy presupposes that there isn’t enough for everyone to get what they want. Lisa wants to be in by one a.m., and her father wants her home by eleven a.m. These periods are mutually exclusive. Shifting the perspective from desires to needs, as we’ll see later in the book, can allow a lot more flexibility in terms of win-win situations.  

A reluctant partner

Two people are required to be in dispute, and two people are required to resolve the disagreement. If you discover that the other side isn’t interested in resolving the disagreement and instead wants to hurt or win at any costs, you’ll need to take a different approach. You may need to defend yourself from the dispute, move away, or seek help from a third party.

You might want to consider how you are regarded in order to elicit a more cooperative response. Are you regarded as a danger? Do people have doubts about your intentions? While you may not see yourself in this light, it is possible that this is how you are perceived.

You are OK but others may not see you as OK.

Consider making a positive comment. Make your intention known. Inquire as to what is required of you. Discuss the benefit to the other individual.

Some people, on the other hand, will benefit more from keeping the problem alive than from addressing it. As a result, they will be hesitant to collaborate with you. Module 7’s lesson on dealing with Power Plays will help you with this.


It’s a case of you vs me when winning takes precedence over understanding. People are more likely to prepare a counter-argument or even a counter-attack than to listen.

The terminology employed reflects the win-lose mentality. It can quickly devolve into a verbal war with a slew of verbal bullets.

‘No wonder you’ve been passed over for promotion four times,’ we say to the person to gain more firepower. We haul out outdated mortar bombs when we need heavy firepower ‘… and it was your responsibility that the PX contract was lost.’ The use of hostile words wastes a lot of time and accomplishes nothing.

It is possible for people to become entrapped in hostile language patterns. It’s as though they don’t know how to deal with disagreements in any other way. People who communicate in a cooperative manner are more likely to overcome obstacles. Hostile language increases and widens the gap between people. If you want people to act with their heads instead of their stomachs, keep the language environment clean. Any fool can criticise, condemn, and complain, as Benjamin Franklin once said… Most knuckleheads do as well.

Conflict must be fuelled

People may become trapped in animosity cycles, feeding the circle with more ammo and misery from both sides… Both are vying for power and are stuck in a lose-lose mindset. The chasm increases, and each digs a deeper hole for himself.

Hostility loops are not self-sustaining and must be nourished. It takes two to quarrel, but only one to stop… if the loop isn’t fed, the antagonism will sputter and the emotional intensity will wane.


You may argue until you’re blue in the face, but if you make the other person feel outdone, you’re going to lose. If the other person does not feel good at the end, you can outtalk, outsmart, outwit, and outreason them. It will only be a win if the needs of the other person are heard and satisfied. When he triumphs, you triumph as well. The person with whom you’re having a disagreement is more likely to be concerned with his own needs and desires than with yours.

Bridging is about paying attention to the other person, observing their wants, concerns, and feelings, and finding common ground, places where you and I may become we, where our interests, needs, and concerns are shared. You’ll be more likely to establish a win-win situation if you invite more conversation. This can be accomplished in both vocal and nonverbal ways.

Bridge mind set    

Some bridging words


Barrier mind-set    

Some barrier words


Be partners, rather than opponents.

Power with, not over

Sharing power does not imply relinquishing control. It’s similar to sharing a candle’s light. Your light does not lessen when you ignite another person’s candle. There is, in fact, something lighter for everyone. Respect is an important part of the enlightened approach to conflict resolution. Respect is defined as the recognition of others’ differences and acceptance of those differences. It happens when I can say You’re OK even if you don’t share my ideas and principles… when I accept you for who you are rather than who I want you to be… when I acknowledge that your needs, while different from mine, are just as important.

When people focus on both sets of wants, worries, and feelings, a win-win situation is more possible.

Respect one another’s viewpoints.

Consider the problem as a shared issue that must be resolved.

Are you willing to compromise and listen?

They have no desire to win at all costs.

Rather of power over, choose power with.

The power of cooperation

People will not want to work with you if you appear to be opposed to them. Make an effort to be open, receptive, and cooperative. Create an environment in which everyone believes they can gain something, i.e. everyone’s a winner. It’s possible that you won’t receive what you want until others do.

Module 5: Recognise and control your emotions

Have you ever felt so hurt, angry, or resentful that you don’t care about the other person, don’t want to resolve the problem, and only want to hurt and get revenge? In a quarrel, even ‘pleasant’ people can turn aggressive and menacing.

Unresolved feelings have a tendency to seep into conversations. Even if you try hard not to exhibit your feelings, they can burst like the cork on a champagne bottle, leaving you with a mess. What can you do to prevent the fury if you can’t manage your feelings?

Recognise your rage.

Feelings are indicators of how things are going in your life. Anger is a warning indication that something isn’t quite right with you. It’s your body’s method of alerting you to the fact that something isn’t right, that one of your values has been violated. Feelings are just another part of you, just like your arms and legs, and they, too, can be controlled.


While you may feel compelled to yell, scream, kick, strike, or flee, acting on your rage is likely to be harmful to a productive partnership. Be careful what you say while you’re angry. The cross words could be the most regrettable speech you’ll ever give!

Hearing loss in the higher frequencies can be caused by turning up the volume on your personal stereo. Hearing loss is also likely as a result of yelling and shouting… The other individual may simply ‘shut down.’ Hearing is likely to improve with a mild and delicate tonality. Instead of speaking from your anger, you might want to try speaking about it. People who have temper outbursts are frequently dismissed.


Unresolved anger can shift inward and manifest as resentment, bitterness, withdrawal, and melancholy. Negative feelings that are suppressed might be harmful to your health. While it is simple to propose that you articulate and express your anger to the appropriate person in a good manner, your experience may have taught you that superficial peace is the least of two evils.

Conflict that isn’t communicated is still conflict.


Anger that has been suppressed is stored in the body. It can build up to the point where you ‘explode’ or ‘dump’ on someone if it is not released. Find a stress management method that works for you; otherwise, stress will function as a toxin in your body, causing illness and disease. Talking with friends, participating in sports, meditation, and relaxing are all effective techniques to relieve stress.

Some people need time to think before they are ready to talk about a disagreement. Some people need to get to the bottom of it right away. Respect each other’s needs and schedule a meeting time. Allowing problems to build up might add fuel to an already smouldering fire.

Control your rage.

Conflict is frequently based on emotion rather than logic. When my anger ‘runs’ through me, I essentially become more foolish, as my perspective narrows. I’m becoming less logical. The brain’s basic component takes over.

I’m having trouble thinking coherently. I’m prone to say and do things that I’ll come to regret later.

Your options can be significantly limited if you are angry.

When you’re angry, adrenaline rushes through your veins, and your heart races. Instead of problem-solving, the body is designed for a brawl.

What causes these emotions, and what can you do about them?

How do you deal with emotions?

Whatever you’re feeling, you’ve devised a plan to deal with it. Feelings are the result of your actions. Your anger will be influenced by how you think, act, and communicate. Change the way you feel by intervening in one or all of the three areas.

Feelings are more about what you tell yourself about the ‘real’ world than they are about the ‘real’ world. It’s all about your one-of-a-kind, subjective, incomplete perspective.

You hear the floors creaking in the middle of the night… You are afraid because you believe a burglar is sneaking up the stairs.

Your fears are unjustified, as the stair boards were simply contracting after a hot summer day.

You hear the stair boards creaking again, and you convince yourself that it’s just the boards contracting… Even if there is a prowler on the stairs this time, you remain cool!

Keep an eye on your thoughts.

Your feelings are a natural extension of your thoughts. If you want to change your feelings, you must first change your thinking. A ‘you should’ is likely to be present in the mind of someone who is angry.

‘You should be more considerate,’ says the narrator.

‘You should have known,’ says the narrator.

How angry can you be if you take the word “should” out of the equation?

He had the option of being considerate.

Remember that the phrase “you should” implies that my way is the best for you, that my values, ideas, and methodology are superior to yours. You can protect yourself from rage by removing the word “should” from your mind. Guilt is derived from the phrase “I should.” 

‘I should have offered more assistance.’

How guilty can you feel if you don’t use the word “should”?

When you tell someone what they “should” do, you run the danger of fostering animosity. As simple as it may appear, removing the word “should” from internal and outward dialogues reduces wrath, guilt, and resentment.

Replace the word ‘should’ with the word ‘could.’ Instead of saying “I should,” use “I could.” Use ‘you could’ or ‘I need’ instead of ‘you should.’

Keep an eye on your physiology.

Your physique, gestures, and tone of voice will all reflect your rage. It’s as though your body is containing your rage. You could find that you can’t get as angry without clenched teeth, a high-pitched voice, or wagging your forefinger if you try. Take note of how your body reacts when you are furious and reverse it; for example, if you find yourself pointing with your right forefinger, put your right hand in your pocket the next time and point with your left. You can lessen the sensation by reversing the expression.

Recommendations for the future: 

• Reduce the volume of your voice.

• Speak at a slower pace.

• Make circular movements rather than straight ones.

• Take a deep breath from your stomach.

• Relax the facial muscle.

• Take your time before responding.

Keep your language in check.

Not only does your physiology hold your fury, but so do your words. Rearrange the words to get a new effect. Try ‘I’m annoyed with you’ or ‘I’m disappointed’ instead of ‘I’m pi**ed off.’ It’s as if the fury is contained within the words, and if I use less expressive language, I’ll feel less enraged.

Managing other people’s rage

What do you do when someone is screaming and yelling at you? While you may need to defend yourself from wrath aimed at you, keep in mind that some individuals need to vent their frustrations before they can move forward. Instead of retaliating or retreating on instinct, listen and encourage the venting. You are more likely to neutralise the antagonism and return to tranquillity and logic in this manner. 

‘Brake time’

You may want to withdraw yourself if you validate, listen, and paraphrase yet the other person remains accusing and abusive. It requires two people to play this game. You don’t have a game until you have a partner! Avoid fleeing the scene or storming out. ‘I know you have strong sentiments about this, and I believe it would be better if we talked about it after we had a chance to consider things through,’ excuse yourself.

No one is in charge if both of you are yelling.

If an argument is getting out of hand, you might want to take a half-hour or so pause to ‘cool off.’

‘I’m afraid this isn’t going to help us… Would it be a good idea to take a break and meet again at three o’clock?’

To fight, you need two people; to stop, you only need one. It’s not break time if you bottle up your rage and walk out of the room in a ‘huffed’ quiet. Break time isn’t much better than avoiding conflict. Allowing yourself time removes the ‘hot’ from the situation, allowing you to tackle the concerns more sensibly. Break time is about deferring, not avoiding, the conversation. To cope with the problem, defuse the rage.

What you should not do

Don’t give counsel or tell the other person what to do. Words like ‘calm down,’ ‘there’s no need to be upset,’ and ‘keep your voice down,’ while well-intentioned, are likely to engender resentment and fury.

‘You are wrong to be furious,’ says the subtext in these comments. Such an invalidation will cause a rift in the relationship.

Maintain rapport by validating your feelings.

What you should do: 

1. Validate

Recognise the other person’s feelings and accept them as true for her.

I can tell you’re quite passionate about this.’

‘So you’re feeling… because…’

When people apologise, they don’t always forgive.

2. Ask the enchanted question, “What…?”

You are giving the client some power and minimising their sense of helplessness by asking what they want… The urge for rage is disappearing as you create a power with circumstance.

‘Can you tell me what you need from me?’ ‘What must take place…?’

3. Verify that you understand everything.

To make sure you grasp what the other person has stated when someone is sincerely attempting to understand you, it’s impossible to stay furious.

• ‘So, basically, what you’re saying is…’

• ‘If I’m not mistaken, you’re saying…’

It’s crucial to pay attention.

Listen without interrupting, disputing, or disagreeing with what is being said. Accept what they’re saying as fact. It is their perception, and it is valid for them, even if it differs from yours.

Even if there is blame, accusation, or demand, listen to comprehend, even if there are distortions and exaggerations, as you perceive it.

Listening leads to comprehension, and comprehension is the basis for agreement. In the lack of understanding, conflict arises.

Module 6: Develop your skills and increase your choices

It’s a hot summer afternoon, and the fly in your kitchen is becoming increasingly agitated as it attempts to escape. When you open the window, the fly misses the opportunity and remains ‘stuck’ in the kitchen. Even when you encourage it with a magazine, it ignores your encouragement and returns to the same location on the window pane.

We can be like this at times, oblivious to the chances available to us, dismissing help, and preferring to do things the way we’ve always done them. Rather than doing what works best, we often stick with what is familiar and comfortable.

The fly that ‘attacks’ the window with even more zeal is both injured and unsuccessful. People who become hostile and demanding frequently fall into this category. Take a different technique if we want a different result. Many of us are brilliant at doing what doesn’t work, oblivious to the fact that we have options.

So, what are my options and, more importantly, what are my existing conflict-related behaviour patterns?

What’s my style?

Whether the conflict is over money, in-laws, children, or sex, people have a tendency to respond in similar ways. Usually, this entails some kind of cooperation, surrender, or attack. With each conflict, your pattern is likely to lead you down the same route, with identical sensations and outcomes.

While all methods for resolving conflict are effective, the ideal strategy depends on the context and the goals you want to achieve. The following are the three most common reaction patterns:

None of them are necessarily good or bad; they are simply more or less effective. While flow fosters positive working relationships and gives a solution that meets everyone’s needs, it assumes that the other party is willing to contribute. If not, you may need to defend yourself or adopt a different manner to ensure your requirements are met.

If you want to be more effective, you need to learn to be more flexible.

You can ‘play’ the course of human diversity better with a variety of approaches, just like a golfer does with a number of clubs. Staying with a club or style that is known and comfortable might be constraining.


Saying ‘yes’ to accommodate the other person is part of this lose-lose strategy. It’s a common habit among people who place a higher importance on relationships than on achieving their objectives. From a strategic standpoint, this could be a viable option. For instance, you may decide that the customer is always right and agree to his request; alternatively you may be dealing with someone who is unreasonable and decide to accommodate them.

The lose-win personality, on the other hand, is more likely to cause dissatisfaction, resentment with oneself, and the risk of being exploited when it is a consistent pattern rather than a conscious choice. Without being a flight personality, you can choose to behave in a certain way.


This is known as the win-lose strategy. It entails the use of force, threats, bluffs, and intimidation, as well as anything else that will aid in the resolution of the disagreement. People that prioritise goals above relationships utilise this tendency.

In some situations, this may be a viable option. As a first response, you may go into fight mode to protect someone who is being physically or verbally abused. This is a caring-driven fight behaviour.

You might want to employ this strategy if folks aren’t ready to flow. For example, you may decide to exert pressure on an untrustworthy individual in order to eliminate the annoyance of his late reporting.

The fighting personality, on the other hand, is solely concerned with winning, with ‘power over,’ and shows little regard for the person or their feelings. Alienation, solitude, and anger will occur. In contrast to a person who borrows fight behaviour to attain a certain relationship goal, this individual becomes “stuck” into win-lose.


This win-win strategy focuses on everyone’s issues and seeks for methods to reach an agreement as a group. It’s about defending yourself without blaming, accusing, demanding, or being nasty. This approach recognises the importance of both sets of requirements and seeks solutions that satisfy everyone. This results in a win-win situation, a sense of power, and healthy, cooperative connections.

Flowing is a non-competitive action. It doesn’t mean giving up or burying your head in the sand and pretending there isn’t a problem. It’s about flowing with the energy of the other, rather than fighting it, as an Aikido master would. The goal is to disarm the energy and divert the onslaught. Aikido seeks to harmonise and align. It resembles a dance in physical practice as the attacker’s energy is deflected and rendered harmless.

The win-win strategy produces collaborators, not adversaries. It entails looking for methods to incorporate and please everyone. The mindset of ‘let’s see how we can both have what we want’ demonstrates that you are not trying to quarrel, and it builds that bridge for mutual benefit… It’s all about mutual respect.

When the other person is not prepared to flow with you, you may need to borrow fight or flight behaviours, but it is the flow attitude that leads to a sense of collaboration and solutions that are based on everyone’s needs.

Key skills for collaboration

Here are three abilities that can help you prevent the disagreement from escalating and direct the energy in a way that will build understanding, trust, and cooperation.

1. Pay attention to the other person’s point of view on the world.

Seeing the difference solely via my eyes will be limiting… I’ll only have access to limited information. Listening to the other person will give you a different perspective, broader perspectives, and more options.

Understand first, respond second

We were taught as youngsters that listening is more important than being quiet. Listening implies being receptive to the viewpoints, desires, and concerns of the other person. It isn’t judgmental because you accept what the other person says as valid and ‘correct’ for them, even if you disagree. It entails putting any preconceived thoughts about that person aside.

Listening is similar to reading the newspaper in that it requires concentration. Something draws our attention, so we skip over the parts of the article that aren’t relevant. As we listen, we have a tendency to skim and discard. We have the ability to selectively listen and filter information without even realising it. We don’t always hear what’s being said, and we’re not always aware of it.

Checking with the other person to make sure you’ve heard them accurately is a good method to increase understanding and offer the other person a stronger sensation of being heard. Instead of justifying, judging, advising, or arguing, listen to comprehend and accept. You’ll likely bring out the best in the other person if you listen in this manner.

Listening is judgement free

It is critical that you pay attention to what that person values. After all, that is why the disagreement is occurring: that person is being denied something vital to them. When someone is attempting to understand and meet your needs, you may realise that it is impossible to continue to be in conflict.

‘Yes buts’ indicate argument rather than listening

Listen for feelings   

Feelings can float around a conversation hunting for a hook to latch onto, and once hooked, they can fly away and evaporate into space. Feelings can get in the way of communication if they aren’t validated and given room to breathe.

‘I’m irritated by your deception.’ ‘It was just a small white lie,’ says the narrator.

This reacts to the content of what is being said rather than the sentiments that are being expressed. Here’s a technique to bring your emotions into the discussion.

‘I’m irritated by your deception.’

‘You appear to be really disturbed about this,’ I say.

Remember that even if you disagree with the substance of what the other person is saying, you may still recognise the significance of sentiments. People rarely feel heard unless their feelings are acknowledged.

Frank believes he has not only listened to Susan but also dealt with the situation when he promises he will spend Sunday afternoon with her, who feels abandoned. The main difficulty, though, is her emotions… Her feelings must be expressed, investigated, and validated. Only then will she believe Frank truly comprehends her.

Susan isn’t the only one who thinks this way. For some, the answer will be the solution. Give the Franks of the world a ‘fix it’ mentality and a better knowledge of the Susans. Some folks will like a combination of the two. People do not always want to be treated in the same manner as you.

Giving the solution is not always the answer

Listen to understand

‘I feel ignored.’

‘You have no excuse to feel neglected.’ ‘Here’s what you should do…’

While these reactions are reasonable, they do not address the root of the problem or provide the person with a sense of understanding and acceptance. The problem often melts away with comprehension. As unbelievable as it may sound, understanding solves 70% of people’s conflict problems.

Here are a few questions to help you understand.

‘How do you know you’ve been neglected?’

‘How can I help you so you don’t feel neglected?’

‘Could you perhaps explain to me what it’s like to be ignored?’

Alternate who gets equal ‘air time.’

How not to do it

Karen: I’m suffering from a severe headache. (States the scenario)

Samu: Would you like some paracetamol? (Wishes to assist)

Karen: I’ve already signed up for two. (Samu shares her suggestion) Samu: You’re trying to accomplish too much; why don’t you just lie down? (With the best of intentions)

Karen: I don’t want to lie down since I have a lot of things to do. (Rejects the suggestion — the chasm widens) Samu: That’s ridiculous. Anything that has to be done can be done later. (Justifies previously offered counsel – polarisation begins)

Karen: Will you quit trying to figure out what’s wrong with me? I stated that I do not wish to lie down. (Reacts to counsel – the chasm deepens – resentment)

Samu: Your problem is that you, like your mother, are obstinate.

(Accusation – hot button pressed – crisis grows)

Karen: And you’re a typical male, aren’t you? Stop instructing me what to do and just leave me alone. (Stereotyping – sense of despondency – feeling misunderstood)

Karen doesn’t feel heard, and Samu irritates her by giving her advice. Samu believes that he has not only listened to Karen (how could he give counsel without first listening?) but also that he has her best interests in mind. He’s befuddled and wounded because she’s turned down his ‘assistance.’

Karen was being listened to by Samu, but he wasn’t listening to her in a way that made her feel heard. It is not enough to simply listen; others must be aware that you have done so.

Mishearing is the norm

Words are used to express thoughts, feelings, and needs. But the words aren’t the experiences, any more than a photograph is the person it depicts or a brochure is the item it describes. Our experiences have a ‘wrapping paper’ in the form of words. My wrapping may include chocolate, but it could easily be mistaken for toffee. ‘I need more appreciation,’ as opposed to ‘you want a pat on the back,’ may be misinterpreted as ‘you want a harder task.’

It’s possible that what you hear isn’t exactly what was stated. Language is a flawed means of expressing one’s thoughts and feelings.

Check what’s inside the wrapper for correctness and ask for specifics.

It’s a pity we speak the same language, because we don’t!


Make sure you hear what you’re saying and that you’re hearing what the other person is saying. While you may hear the words said, you may not understand what the speaker was trying to say.

The difficulty with communication, according to George Bernard Shaw, is the delusion that it has occurred. It appears that mishearing is common, and then people dispute about what was never uttered.

Allow the other person to speak first, and then summarise what you’ve heard in your own words every now and again to increase accuracy. This not only allows you to hear well, but it also demonstrates that you are genuinely interested in understanding and comprehending the other’s point of view.

‘So, basically, what you’re saying is…’

‘I think what I’m hearing is…’

‘Tell me more about that so I can comprehend…’ ‘Do you have anything else to say?’

People who claim they don’t have time to listen are actually implying that they don’t value listening enough to devote the necessary time. They’re also signalling that they have time to deal with the consequences of not listening, which include misunderstanding, disagreement, and confrontation.

Listening gets you into the other person’s view

Listening starters

Here are a few open-ended questions to get the person to discuss the differences. These should be accompanied by a kind tone of voice and open body language so that they are perceived as invitations to speak.

The voice in your head

What’s going on inside… our internal conversation… can easily divert our attention. It can be difficult to ‘hear’ the other person when they are being so ‘loud’ and judgmental.

There’s probably a lot you’re thinking and feeling but aren’t expressing. Make an effort to maintain a positive internal conversation that allows you to focus entirely on the other person.

Listening makes a lot of sense.

Acceptance listening

1. Put your anxieties, feelings, and needs aside for the time being.

2. Pay attention to what matters to the other person.

3. Consider what the other person says to be true for him.

4. Sum up what you’ve heard every few sentences.

If you rationalise what you’re saying, you’re not really listening.

Instead of creating a one-way roadway, construct a communication highway where thoughts and feelings can freely flow in both directions.

Discuss your thoughts on the world in a constructive manner.

How do you express your hurt and anger to the other person if you feel abused, misunderstood, or misinterpreted? People who are ‘honest’ in their expressions may find that it backfires, causing them to argue and grow apart. It’s not enough to simply be truthful; you must be truthful in a skillful manner.

It can be inflammatory to begin with ‘I am upset with you because…,’ because the underlying message is ‘you are incorrect.’ Such beginnings may reflect your perspective on the situation, but they also carry value judgments and imply that the other party is to blame.

‘Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing.’  Robert Benchley

By accepting differences and attempting to comprehend the other person’s point of view, more openness will be generated.

People who speak constructively, expressing their thoughts, feelings, and opinions in an open, honest, and direct manner. Keep in mind that you’re providing your perspective on the world in general and on this person’s behaviour in particular. This is incomplete, subjective, and filtered information. It is your opinion, and the other person’s opinion may disagree. You may regard the individual as a villain. He’ll think of himself as a hero.

When things don’t go as planned, we’re eager to assign blame. This is especially true if we’ve been holding on to resentment and hatred for a long time. If you blame the other person, they will most likely blame you.

Attempt to avoid character assassination.

To avoid offending the other person, talk about yourself and how their actions affect you. Using “I” language instead of “You” language can help keep the matter from becoming personal.



Talking starters

If you try to communicate your message using comedy or sarcasm, you run the danger of not being heard. Don’t expect others to know what’s going on in your head… Tell others what you need and what is essential to you. Here are a few sentence starters that will allow you to be straightforward while also being respectful.

Beware ‘Never’ and ‘Always’

We often use excessive language, especially when our emotions are running high.

‘You’re never on time,’ says the narrator.

‘You never remember to call…’

Is he never on time when he gets home? It may appear that he never arrives home on time, but this is most likely an exaggeration. If you make truthful claims or talk about your sentiments, you’re more likely to be regarded seriously: ‘It feels like you never come home on time.’ ‘It feels like you never call.’

‘I feel neglected when we are not at home together,’ rather than ‘you are never at home,’ is a less inflammatory statement.

Instead of stating, “You’re usually late,” say, “When you keep me waiting, I feel unimportant.”

Instead of ‘You never involve me in decision-making,’ try something like ‘When I sense I am excluded from the decision-making process.’ Using the words ‘always’ and ‘never’ will always (or almost always!) divert attention away from the underlying issue. You’ve created a distraction and most likely something new to grow about.

Share feelings

We frequently conflate being emotional with expressing feelings. You can be incredibly emotional without expressing much, and you can be extremely emotional without expressing much.

‘I’m angry with you because…’ may elicit a reaction of ‘and I’m angry with you because…,’ with each individual becoming angrier.

This is occurring as a result of a sense of blame. Maintaining your focus on yourself and your feelings will be more beneficial. ‘I’m angry inside, concerned and confused, and I need to feel like we’re on the same page.’

Talk to the relevant person, not everyone else.

Talk in positive terms

Have you ever noticed how when you embark on a diet and resolve not to eat chips and cream cakes, you lose weight? What do you grow enamored of? Yes, those chips and cream cakes are stuck in your head.

Negatives seem to be handled by the mind only as positives, e.g., don’t think of a pink elephant and what do you get? What’s the size of your pink elephant?

‘I don’t want us to have a falling out over this,’ or ‘this is going to be difficult,’ are examples of negative statements to avoid. You might simply get what you don’t want! Rather than focusing on what you don’t want, keep your attention on what you both desire. Otherwise, it will be like the golfer who thinks to himself as he prepares to hit the ball, ‘I don’t want to hook the ball,’ says the player. He’ll almost certainly hook the ball because of what he’s telling himself. Instead of talking about what you don’t want, focus on what you do want.

Talk future not past

Past or future?

It’s always preferable to discuss how you want things to be rather than what caused the current issue. While it is understandable that some individuals need to talk about their prior experiences to come to terms with a situation, this can also elicit negative emotions and lead to fighting, blame, and accusation.


Your body, as strange as it may seem, is a part of the discourse. According to studies, nonverbal communication accounts for more than 70% of all social interactions. Your body, which is never ‘deafeningly silent,’ expresses your thoughts and feelings. This ‘commentary’ will almost certainly be ‘louder’ than the words themselves.

Here are some guidelines to receptive, open body language:

1. Take a look at the individual.

2. Speak in a controlled, friendly, and calm tone of voice.

3. Match the energy and state of the other person. This will help to build trust.

4. Watch out for the following:

5. Turn your body away from the other person.

If you have a win-win perspective and sincerely desire to meet the needs of the other person, your nonverbal signals are likely to indicate openness and receptivity.

Your body is doing a lot of the talking!


Talk about what you like about that individual instead of expressing negative feelings. Recognise his good intentions and what he is attempting to accomplish. Validate the point of view, needs, and intent. Rather than saying, “This is typical,” say, “I know you’re trying to save us money by repairing the washing machine yourself, but I’ve been without it for a week and I need clean clothes for the family.” You’re never going to get it right. I knew we should have hired a service technician for the job.’


You might want to employ any of the following control strategies if someone interrupts you and won’t let you finish.

Nonverbal methods for gaining control include closing your eyes, raising your hand, and looking away. These are ideally used in conjunction with phrases like ‘Please allow me to finish’ or ‘hear me out.’

You really want the other person to hear what you’re saying and to be receptive to it. You’ll be more likely to be heard if you start by listening to them in a nonjudgmental manner.


Here are some recommendations to help you convey your point of view about the world while maintaining a win-win partnership.

Instead of talking about the problem, talk about the solution:

Rather than dwelling on the past, what has happened, who said what, and so on, speak about how you want things to be.

Avoid any implication of blame, condemnation, or criticism:

Words like ‘You should…,’ ‘You never…,’ and 

‘You make me feel…’ should be avoided.

Rather than talking about what you think or believe, talk about what you see.

Instead of saying, “You are not interested,” say, “When I talk to you and I don’t make eye contact, I feel you are not interested.”

Feedback on the behaviours, never the person:

Rather than implying the other is a bad person, talk about how the behaviour is bothering you… After all, they aren’t bothered by their behaviour.

Personal remarks are not permitted.

Reading isn’t a problem

There are no expectations.

Solution pointing rather than finger pointiUse ‘I’ language:

By talking about your truth rather than implying you have the truth you are less likely to appear hostile or accusatory.

 ‘The way I see it …’

 ‘My perception is …’

Make an effort to help and collaborate: 

Make it clear that you’d like to help.

To inform, use feedback:

Use caution when advising, blaming, or making demands with it.

Recognise the goodwill:

Take the optimistic approach and give the benefit of the doubt.

Solve problems in a way that benefits both you and the other person.

Identify needs

If the listening phase fails to yield a solution, it will be necessary to negotiate and address problems. It’s likely that the listening will reveal a range of unmet requirements. List them all and choose one to work on; it’s not a good idea to work on multiple issues at once.

People may deal with wishes or symptoms rather than the main problem if they don’t take the time to investigate their requirements. This is a form of patching things up that leads to further frustration and the dispute resurfacing in the future.

Brainstorm solutions

Make a list of many options for meeting both sets of needs on this topic. Aim for 5–10 different options. It is advisable not to criticise, critique, or assess the suggestions at this time… So there will be no ‘yes, buts’. Encourage zany or out-of-the-box thinking in order to keep the creative juices flowing. In the decision-making step, these concepts will be evaluated.

Beware of the quick fix

Decide a way forward

Look for similarities in you. Discuss your common ground. Instead of a ‘but,’ make a ‘yes.’ Go over the list and cross off anything that you and your partner are interested in. This will reduce the number of choices available to you. Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each of the remaining choices. You’ll probably have more options as you speak than you imagined.

Use currencies that you can both trade, resulting in a win-win situation. You might offer items that are simple for both of you to give in your give-and-take technique. Aim for the lowest possible cost with the greatest possible benefit. A currency that is ‘elegant’ is one that is low in cost for one person yet great in value for another. 

Agree a plan of action

It’s preferable if this plan is written down and double-checked to ensure that both parties understand and agree on what will be done, how, and when.

It’s easier to avoid misunderstandings if you’re clear about what you’

Make a date to check in on how things are going.

Agree before you disagree

More choices

Avoid the tit-for-tat scenario, which will only result in a deadlock and a lose-lose situation. Listen to them first, look for areas of agreement, and endeavour to satisfy their wants if you want people to listen to you, look for areas of agreement, and meet your needs. While their actions are likely to mirror yours, no assurances can be made when it comes to humans. However, in general, behaviour breeds behaviour.

What is the best way to agree?

If you agree with the other person, state what you liked and why you appreciated it; otherwise, you may come across as patronising.

What is the best way to disagree?

You may lose rapport and create a “you versus me” situation if you simply counter with a different opinion without first verifying what the other person has stated. Although some people prefer directness and don’t mind counter-arguing, you’ll have a better chance of maintaining rapport if you:

Jeff: What I appreciate about your proposal is that it will make the report shorter (validate). What concerns me is that the key sales statistics will not be highlighted (reservations). What can we do to ensure that the critical sales information is included without lengthening the report? (Find a solution to the problem.)

View objections as unfulfilled needs


Argument mode is often indicated by the use of ‘yes buts.’ People digging their claws in and defending their own opinions are more likely to polarise than to persuade when they argue. People become engulfed in their own opinions and less susceptible to persuading. If you ‘win’ the debate, you’ve probably lost your head and heart, and there’s no sense of teamwork or understanding. Arguing is a lose-lose situation; problem-solving is a win-win situation.

Arguing is a bad persuasive strategy because you’ll be arguing from your own reasoning and values. People relocate for reasons that are important to them, not for reasons that are important to you. If you want to influence and persuade someone, make connections to their values.

Respond rather than react

Here are some instances of how to respond constructively to objections and concerns. You can reframe the opposition and maintain rapport by asking open questions.

It’s not going to work: What is it that you don’t like about it?

My method is superior: What makes you think that’s the best choice?

It’s unthinkable: What would it take to make it happen?

I can’t: Would it make a difference if you could?

That’s impossible: what would happen if we did?

That isn’t the greatest approach: What would be the most effective method for you?

It’s prohibitively expensive: In comparison to what, exactly?

Rules for constructive controversy

Here are some suggestions for avoiding blame, accusation, and judgement throughout the debate.

It might be helpful to put oneself in the shoes of an observer, someone who has no stake in the issue, who realises that all sides have genuine concerns and can provide a neutral viewpoint on how to proceed. What would you say to each of the people if you were this person? What are your thoughts on their bargaining styles? What suggestions do you have for moving the issue forward?

It can be a tremendous stroke of luck if you don’t receive what you desire.


Acceptingly listen:

Consider what you can offer the other person:

Request what you require from the other:

Make it a win-win situation:

Module 7: Four Steps to a Successful Resolution

Understanding and addressing needs are critical. Pay attention to the other person first and foremost, then investigate the need underlying the desire and invite the other’s solution. Build for maximum win-win collaboration, deal with power plays, and you’ll be able to handle differences without conflict if you follow these procedures.

It was around 8.30 p.m. The restaurant’s lighting was dim, and quiet music was playing in the background. We were perusing the menu when we noticed a couple across the table from us.

After their lunch, they sat down for a cup of coffee. He had his arms pulled tightly across his chest, a scowl on his face, and was furiously staring at the ground. She was standing with her back to him, blowing cigarette smoke into the air.

She abruptly broke the stillness. ‘You’ve always had that problem. Even the children dislike you because you snap your fingers and demand everyone to pay attention.’

I sank my head deeper into my menu out of humiliation as he retorted, ‘You’re becoming more and more like your mother.’ I’m not sure why I married you.’

The menu was a blur when I saw her throw the last of her coffee over him out of the corner of my eye. ‘Don’t ever do it again,’ he muttered between clenched teeth as he seized her wrist.

I have no idea what I ordered that night! He gradually let go of his grip, and they sat in angry silence, back to back. They left ten minutes later.

Imagine if I followed them about and said, ‘How much do you feel understood by your partner on a scale of 0 to 10?’ It’s very likely that the answer was ‘0.’ ‘How much do you believe your partner is willing to go out of his or her way to satisfy your requirements 010?’ The most likely response is ‘0.’

When people are striving to understand and accommodate each other’s needs, it’s impossible to escalate conflict.

The steps

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to any argument, there are some steps you can take to handle your differences in an open and honest manner without jeopardising your relationship. Here are four stages to help you move from you against me to us against the problem, using the abilities you learned in the previous chapter. This approach has evolved as a result of studies on organisational conflict management and relationship counselling.

Step one: attend to the other person.

Step two: Determine the need that lies beneath the desire for each of you.

Step three: Inviting the other’s solution is the final step.

Step four: Create as many win-win situations as possible.

The first and second steps demonstrate that you are attempting to comprehend the other person.

Steps three and four demonstrate that you are willing to accommodate their requirements.

Step one

Pay attention to the other individual.

‘Your presentation was very thorough and lengthy.’

‘Yes, but if the board is to make an informed judgement, it needs all of the evidence.’

Watch out for the ‘yes but …’

The majority of us are likely to excuse and explain our conduct when we are chastised or given feedback. After all, we are intelligent people who have considered the circumstance and act in certain ways for specific reasons.

Leroy: You’re not paying attention to me!

Tanya: However, I do.

No, you don’t, you just keep working. Leroy: You don’t even give me a glance.

Tanya: Yes, but I can listen to you while working.

Tanya thought she was listening to Leroy, but he didn’t think so. Tanya was not paying attention to him in a way that made him feel heard.

If you want to start an argument, justify it; if you want to maintain rapport, validate it.

Defending oneself merely exacerbates the situation. If you… justify retaliate explain your circumstance as a first step,

Discuss your desires… You’ll almost certainly expand the chasm and create a barrier. Of course, your predicament is critical. After you’ve listened to the other person’s perspective and feelings, you can talk about your predicament. You’ll gain a better understanding and a sense of partnership this way.

What should I do?

Attending to the other person and validating their opinion, feeling, or intention is the first step in resolving conflict. Validation does not imply agreement. It’s the acceptance that a person’s thoughts or feelings are normal… that they are her reality. ‘What kind of presentation would you like to see?’ for example. ‘How do you know I’m not paying attention?’

Most of us become engrossed in our own position, focusing on what we want and need while neglecting to consider the needs of others.

There is agony when we have an unmet need. The more we focus on ourselves and our demands, the more we focus on the suffering. If you’ve ever had a toothache that kept you awake all night, you know how tough it is to be altruistic and think of others while you’re in such misery. Expect people to focus on themselves when there are unmet needs and sorrow in a fight. If you want to build a collaborative connection, reverse this.

A few questions from the audience

As a first step, pay attention to the other person to reduce resistance, generate a sense of being heard, and begin to construct that all-important bridge. 

‘What needs to happen in order for it to be perfect for you?’

‘Can you tell me what you need from me?’

‘What are our options?’

‘How would you like to see things unfold?’

The answers to these questions will reveal what the other person desires, i.e., the fulfilment of his unfulfilled need. There will be no need to discuss or proceed with these stages if you can reach this solution.

Leroy: You don’t pay attention to what I’m saying.

Tanya: How would you know I paid attention to you?

Leroy: Instead of concentrating on your keyboard, look at me.

There is a solution that is acceptable to both of them if Tanya can give Leroy her undivided attention. There is no need to proceed past this point.

Step two  

Investigate the need that lies beneath the desire.

Mike wants to be prepared for the monthly sales meeting with the most up-to-date information. Lisa constantly misses deadlines, claiming that she needs extra time to collect data and prepare a thorough report. They both want different things, and their desires are mutually exclusive. For the other person, neither of the proposed solutions works.

If Lisa and Mike stay at the level of wants, they’ll debate, counter-argument, and become increasingly upset as they fail to make progress. It’ll be a case of you vs. me.

The desire or stance chosen is viewed as a specific response to a need or interest. A why question will reveal the need that is motivating the desire.

Lisa must complete the task flawlessly, and Mike requires information in order to agree on next month’s sales targets. Perfection and setting sales goals are not mutually exclusive.

Both individuals can settle problems, negotiate, and make meaningful progress at the level of needs.

Needs are met through desires.

Many desires are mutually exclusive.

Needs motivate desires.

Other than the explicit desire, needs can be addressed.

Questions to elicit the requirement

Not only will you keep the attention on the other person if you explore the need underlying the want, but you will also increase the feeling of being listened to and develop understanding.

‘How essential is that to you?’

‘What difference does it make?’

‘What are you looking for?’

Step three

Inviting the other’s suggestions is a good idea.

The risk of providing our own answer is that it is based on our standards and worldview, and hence may not meet the needs of others. Giving someone your glasses, which were prescribed for near-sight, to someone who suffers from far-sight can be dangerous.

Be solution-oriented.

To get from problem to solution, use the ‘what’ question. If you spend too much time thinking about the situation, you risk triggering unpleasant emotions and creating a sense of pessimism.

Work out a solution for both sets of requirements. e.g. ‘What needs to happen so you can retain your standards and the team agrees on sales figures?’ 

Mike would inquire of Lisa. a few problem-solving inquiries

How do you think we’d go about resolving that?

So, what do you think?

What would you propose as a solution?

‘How can we make it so that you receive… (your need) and I get… (my need)?’

Inviting the solution of the other creates a sense of authority and teamwork. Because the person was part in the solution’s development, you’re more likely to acquire commitment than compliance.

Step four  

Build for maximal win-win situations.

You wouldn’t knock down a wall in your house without first understanding why it was built, and you might not want to knock down an idea without first understanding why it was proposed.

The proposed solution might not be as horrible as it appears. Madame Curie had a ‘poor’ notion that led to the discovery of radium. Richard Drew came up with a “poor” idea, which turned out to be Scotch tape. Recognise the validity of what is being offered before expressing your concerns. You can establish an acceptable agreement by building on what has been presented.

Lisa can advise that Mike delegate some of her responsibilities to free her time. If this solution does not fulfil Mike’s requirements, he may assist Lisa in considering the implications of her recommendations and negotiating further. The disagreement will not be settled until both parties can agree on a win.

‘I appreciate your suggestion because…’

‘My main worries are…’

‘What do you think we should do?’

You are pitted against me.

Hello, James. What can I do for you? Peter:

James: I believe I am entitled to a raise in pay in recognition of my dedication and the number of hours I’ve worked in recent months. (want)

Peter: It’s been a challenging year for us; sales are down and targets haven’t been met. I’m afraid I’ll have to say no, as painful as it is. (Personal predicament)

Yes, but I’ll need extra money… I’m struggling to make ends meet.

(reiteration of position – it feels like I’m not being heard)

Peter: You appear to be unaware that my hands are tied. (frustration – feeling unheard – becoming entrapped in one’s own position)

James: And you don’t seem to understand what it’s like to eke out a livelihood in this little place. (angry – polarisation of viewpoints)

Peter: Now you’re just being irrational. (accusation)

And you, James… (slams the door) What’s the point, anyway? (the chasm is widening)

This becomes more serious as a result of the following factors:

Rather of attending to James’ needs, Peter’s first instinct was to explain his situation.

The interaction continues at the level of desires… needs aren’t examined (I want more money – how many times do I have to tell you that more money isn’t accessible).

It’s you vs. me. It’s a case of ‘I want’ vs. ‘You can’t have.’

As a result, neither party feels heard or understood. They’re irritated and upset, and their relationship has worsened. The problem will continue to simmer and will most certainly reappear at some point in the future. Instead of a bridge, a barrier has been built.

Work on both the connection and the problem at the same time.

Against the problem, we are 

Peter: Hello, James. What can I do for you? 

James: I believe I am entitled to a raise in pay in recognition of my dedication and the number of hours I’ve worked in recent months. (want)

Peter: What would it mean to you if I increased your salary? (Attend – Investigate Needs)

James: I’d feel more valued and appreciated if my effort was recognised. (feels as if she had been heard)

Peter: So a raise in pay would allow you to feel more valued. (senses that he is understood) Yes, James.


We’ve had a challenging year with lower revenue and missed expectations. (My scenario) What can we do to make you feel more appreciated, given that we don’t have the financial means to support a pay raise? (validation – solution to invite)

James: I believe I’d feel more valued if I were given more responsibilities, but I’d still prefer my salary to be evaluated as soon as possible. (solution)

Peter: Would it be okay if we agreed to talk about remuneration in three months? (Confirm that everyone agrees) Yes, James.

Peter: What kind of responsibility were you thinking of? (concentrate on anything else)

James: I’d like to be the project manager for the next one. (want)


You undoubtedly have a great deal of relevant experience… I’d require… What do you think…? (build)

This works because, 

As a result of this strategy, James feels heard and understood, and he perceives management’s readiness to address his genuine requirements. His wants are somewhat addressed, and he is treated seriously. Although the facts are the same in both instances — James wants a raise but there isn’t enough money – a bridge has been constructed and the relationship has been improved.

If you do not regard the requirements of the other person, you will cause conflict.

Collaboration on the fast track

Sheila: Your department is notorious for not delivering reports on time. (want)

Sean: The world isn’t flawless. We have issues here that I don’t always have control over. (justification)

Sheila: Yes, but you’re missing something.. (argument)

Sean: And it appears that you don’t comprehend… (polarisation)

Of course, there are a variety of reasons why the reports were not completed on time. Explaining why they aren’t ready is likely to sour the relationship and create a you-versus-me situation. Include some type of validation and problem-solving if you want to develop a collaborative us against the problem. The following example shows how the third step by itself can do this.

Sheila: Your department is notorious for not delivering reports on time. (want)


I understand the importance of deadlines (validation), but the world isn’t ideal. We have issues here that I don’t always have control over.

(My situation) Given the fluidity of my situation, what can we do to guarantee that the inconvenience to you is maintained to a minimum? (problem-solve)

Old habits must be broken.

You may choose to take these steps while the other person continues to blame and attack. It may appear that you are going nowhere.

Even so, there is a way to have a fruitful discussion:

Naomi: I’ve been thinking about what occurred, and I’m worried about how it might harm our friendship. I’d like to learn more about what was going on for you and give my thoughts. (invite)

Mark: The issue was your mind-set; you rushed into things without thinking.


Naomi: You think my demeanour was unhelpful. (thank you) Could you elaborate on this? (concentrate on anything else)

Mark: You shouldn’t have said what you did, to be honest. When you don’t think things through, it irritates me much.

(blame and accusation)

Naomi: It appears that I misread your situation. (confirm) What would you have required of me? (ask for a solution)

Mark: First and foremost, I’d like you to…

Naomi: Can you tell me why this is so important to you?

Mark: … (answer)

Naomi: My predicament is… what can we do so that you receive… and I get….

Because you’ll almost certainly need saintly patience to keep this process going, it’s a good idea to weigh the quantity of patience required against the value of the relationship to you.

Playing with power

What can you do about the obstinate person who ignores your demands and refuses to compromise? You have the option of being passive, fighting, or confronting this person with their behaviour and inviting conversation.

Here’s a technique to be forceful while maintaining a sense of teamwork. It allows you to start a dialogue without implying blame, accusation, or a demand. It is divided into three sections:

1 The behaviour – a non-emotive description of the existing state of affairs

2 Your reaction to the behaviour – how you feel or think about it

3 What you’d need instead of the chosen behaviour

Never, ever give up on someone. Every day, miracles occur! 

‘I get furious when I feel that my needs are being ignored, and I’d like us to work together more.’

If the other person continues to ignore your requirements, such as by saying, “You are overreacting,” repeat your firm request.

‘I understand you believe I am overreacting, but I feel disregarded, and I would like us to work together more.’

This three-part method is a great way to start a conversation. The debate is only getting started, but it’s off to a fantastic start. You still need to learn about each other’s perspectives and work together to solve problems for mutual benefit.

The real world

While following the steps in order makes sense, a real-life conversation is participatory, with participants going up and down the steps. The steps are structured such that no matter which one you are on, you may access all of the others. In order to have a productive conversation, you may need to travel from step one to step three, then back to step two, and so on. It will always be possible to stay on the steps and climb back up!

Breaking up with someone can be a bold move.

The steps’ language

Consider the words provided with each stage as a guideline. It may be beneficial to maintain the process while developing your own style and words.

Allow the other person’s needs to dictate how long you spend on each phase. Delaying the first two steps will benefit people who come to terms with their challenges by talking through their feelings and needing to be understood. Those who wish to get to the problem-solving stages as soon as possible will want to skip the comprehension stages.

Use the preceding chapters’ ideas and examples to aid you do this. To assure correctness, paraphrasing can be used with any of the processes.

Different personalities require different styles.


After a series of tennis lessons, the tennis instructor cannot guarantee that you will win your matches. The coach gives you additional options and flexibility in your game, which increases your chances of winning.

Similarly, these processes do not always ensure a positive outcome; occasionally, not only the goals, but also the needs, are mutually exclusive. In a relationship, you need space, and I need intimacy. A compromise may be the only way ahead. These stages expand your options and, as a result, your ability to manage disagreements.

The tennis coach, on the other hand, can provide some assurances. If you hit the ball with good topspin from two feet above the net, it will never cross the end line. These procedures ensure that you will manage your disagreements in an open and honest manner, free of arguing or confrontation. You’ve slipped off the steps if you get into an argument or a fight!

Questions to ponder

After you’ve gone through the processes, you might want to ask one or more of these questions to get an even better win-win situation.

‘From 0 to 10, how important is this problem to you?’

‘On a scale of 0 to 10, how well do you think I understand you?’

What do I need to do to make you feel like I’m getting a better understanding of you?’ (If you have a low score.)

‘From 0 to 10, how much do you sense my readiness to meet your needs?’ ‘What should I do to make you feel like I’m more willing to meet your needs?’ (If you have a low score.)

‘How good of a solution is that for you on a scale of 0 to 10?’

‘Can you think of a way to make it even better?’ (If you have a low score.)

How to Resolve a Conflict


Bolton R., People Skills, Prentice-Hall, 1986

Booher D., How to Say it Right First Time, McGraw-Hill, 1994

Cornelius H. and Fairies, Everyone Can Win, Simon Schuster, 1989

Covey R., The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Simon Schuster, 1989

Dana D., Talk It Out, Kogan Page, 1990

Elgin S., How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable, John Wiley, 1997

Stone D., Patton B., Heen S., Difficult Conversations, Michael Joseph, 1999

Quinn M. and T., Couple Alive, Family Caring Trust, 1998.

Ury W., Getting Past No, Business Books Ltd, 1991

Shay McConnon, Margaret McConnon – Conflict Management in the Workplace, – How to manage disagreements and develop trust and understanding-How To Books Ltd (2008)

Jack G. Montgomery – Conflict Management for Libraries_ Strategies for a Positive, Productive Workplace (2005)

Conflict Management in the Workplace - Global Courses