I’ve shared what I know about conflicts. I hope it has demystified them, so you feel more comfortable using conflicts in writing. Or maybe the information helped you think about your own approach to conflicts. For some, the awareness may have sparked celebrations. For others, you may be running toward the hills. For the second group, take off your running shoes and read this post. I’ll tell you how to face conflicts. So this post is more for your personal use than for writing. However, it’s good to show characters with healthy communication. What is the process? STRAIGT TALK.
It’s a strategy people use when they want to 1) maintain focus on an issue; 2) reduce misunderstandings; 3) increase open communication in order to resolve an issue.
1) Speak for yourself: This means what it says. SPEAK FOR YOURSELF! If you really want to heat up an argument say something like this: “Everyone thinks you’re messy and disrespectful.” There are soooo many things wrong with that statement. First, it’s not your place to fight someone else’s battle. Second, you’re rationalizing your argument by supporting it with “other” people, as if your own thoughts and feelings are not enough of a reason to say something. I’ve talked about this with you already. If you think and feel it, it’s important. Figure out why and own it. Third, saying “everyone” makes your listener paranoid. People who are paranoid don’t listen, they react to threats. Forth, you’re implying this person is messy and disrespectful all the time. No one is something ALL the time.
If you’re invested in resolving an issue, say this, “I think at times you’re messy and disrespectful.”
2) Discuss sensory data: Think the five senses: hear, smell, taste, sight, and touch. Say something like. “I think you’re being disrespectful when you roll your eyes and yell when I ask you to put your muddy boots by the door.”
3) Express thoughts: “I think you believe I’m nagging you when you roll your eyes and yell. I don’t want to nag.”
4) Share feelings: Don’t get gooey and dramatic. Puhlease! That is just too annoying and will derail your resolution plan. “But I can’t ignore the anger I feel when you leave your muddy boots by the door.”
5) Discuss wants: “All I want you to keep mud from being tracked into the house.”
6) State actions: “Just leave your boots on the mat by the door or outside.”
Now don’t run off and try this out just yet. You need to know how to listen to what the person has to say. I’ll cover LISTENING in the next post. I know this seems stilted on paper. It won’t if you take a breather, gather your thoughts and go back to the person once you find the right words, the words that sound natural and true for you, to you.