Resolving relationship conflict – focus on issues and not personalities

Highlights of this information update:
00.00     Introduction
00.12     Relationships are so important
00.29     Relationships enhancement – some tips
01.30     Honesty and trust in relationships
02.55     Relationships and respect
03.55     Insights into the concepts of ‘warranted’ and ‘unwarranted’ conflict
05.12     Ogden Nash-an important insight

Let’s talk a little bit more about relationships.

Hello, I’m Alan Patching and welcome to Transforming Minds and Transforming Business.

Relationships, as we said in a past post, are some of the most important aspects of society, and getting people together in the right way, whether it be in a family, within a business, or in a client business relationship is just so important in a pressure filled world.

How can we do that?

Well, over the years I’ve researched various ways in which we can improve relationships and the way we communicate with each other and I’ve identified a couple of tips that I think are always useful for anybody in any sort of relationship, so let’s go through those now.

First of all keep in mind that the natural tendency of the human ego is not to recognise any idea that it didn’t initiate, so that the natural tendency for us in any debate or discussion on any contentious topic is o be right.

But sometimes it’s just not that important to be right; sometimes it’s more important to show respect for the other; and sometimes withdrawing from the conversation without pushing a point can do more for a relationship than it can to win the argument.   Of course, you don’t back off on important points, but on issues that simply don’t count or at times when it can be more important to build the relationship than win the argument there’s nothing wrong with just saying, ‘I don’t need to be right on this one, I don’t need to win the point’, and to move on.

I think an even more important point behind really good relationships is they’re built on honesty.  An open, honest relationship leads to trust – it doesn’t matter whether it’s a relationship between clients and a company and their brand and what they stand for, or if it’s between two people who trust each other in a partnership; you can safely bet the trust was based and built on honesty.

Of course, we see in the business world when something happens and a bad word or a reputation effecting occurrence happens in the market place, organisations are very quick to respond to that, to defend the brand, to rebuild, to be open and honest (we hope) about what they’ve been doing to get the trust back.

Johnson and Johnson was famous for that when they removed so much from the shelves of pharmacies, way, way, back about ten years ago because there was a product that had a problem in it’s development and they openly admitted it to the public and removed it from the shelves.   This action built up trust.  The honesty built more trust in their client base and countered the fact that they might have produced a product with a problem.

It’s amazing how much people are tuned, if you like, to appreciate honesty and trust people who show honesty.

In addition to the honesty in the public place, it’s very, very important to build trust on the same basis in personal relationships.  In personal relationships I think respect is a very, very, important aspect of building good relationships.

I think showing respect for the other is like that assertive communication thing.

We don’t put ourselves ahead of the other in an aggressive style;  we don’t put them ahead of us;  we’re equal partners in this and so we move forward, and whilst I may not agree at all with what the consultant on the other side in business says, or what the lawyer on the other side says or indeed what my wife or husband or partner says, I respect their right to hold that position.  And I honour the fact that there are differences between us and that that can make our relationship all the much more interesting because we get to look at two points of view even though it may not be all the time that we can get an agreement between those two points of view.

Respect really is an essential part of all good relationships.

Finally, I’d like to address the concept of warranted and unwarranted conflict.

This is a concept from Elias Porter and his Relationship Awareness Theory from the 1980’s – but still very, very much applicable in the world today, and we’ll talk more about that in future posts.

Warranted conflict is conflict about issues, and it remains about the issues, effectively.

Unwarranted conflict is conflict that gets off the issues and becomes about personalities or behaviour styles or whatever.

Once we get beyond warranted conflict, conflict tends to escalate in the unwarranted field, and when conflict escalates it quickly moves from a focus on both parties involved (and an issue, of course) to a focus on just me – I need to win this.

Once we think that, things start to disintegrate very, very quickly.

The emotionally intelligent person in a relationship, regardless of what form of relationship – business or personal, is very much aware of when a debate on an issue occurs and when it starts moving from a warranted basis about that issue to an unwarranted basis about personalities.  The emotionally intelligent person  is smart enough to know that nothing is going to be resolved at that point, and withdraws from the discussion  to re-address it at another time when things have cooled down.

Allow me to finish with a quote, from Ogden Nash about marriage – but I think it applies in all sorts of relationships and it goes like this:

‘if you want your marriage brimming with love in the marriage cup when your wrong stand up and admit it, when your right sit down and shut up’.

I’m sure you get the message.

I look forward to seeing you on future posts.

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For now this is Alan Patching – thank you for reading.

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