The Biggest Mistake in Conflict Resolution

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The Biggest Mistake in Conflict Resolution

Encourager-In-Chief: August 30th, 2017

Never judge someone else’s intent.

In my Conquering Conflicts with Difficult People seminar, I ask people to select a metaphor for the word conflict. It allows me to understand how they feel about it. Over the years, I have heard some of the most outrageous responses to this request. Some of the most extreme have been “conflict is like going to the dentist", “nails on a blackboard", “pulling teeth", “having root canal done", “chewing glass", and “running over a hornets nest with a lawnmower".

This exercise revealed two fascinating truths: (1) I am very glad I did not decide to become a dentist, and (2) most people have a completely different view of conflict than I do.

While nearly everyone who has taken that seminar has had an extremely negative view of conflict, I’ve always held that conflict is merely two people with different needs. Conflicts allow us the opportunity to better understand each other’s perspectives. Once this is accomplished, it opens the door to allow us to grow closer and work better with one another.

The most important advice I ever heard about conflict came from Tony Robbins, who said, “never, ever, ever question someone’s intent". You can let somebody know how you felt and how upset you were with what they did. However, the moment you start to question their intent—why they did what they did—you are judging them. This will seriously reduce your chances of reaching a workable solution.

If you find yourself in a heated conflict, express your feelings and let the other person know that you’re upset with the action and not the person. If you say, for example, “I am really upset with you because you didn’t show up when you told me you would. You made me feel that you didn’t care about my feelings. I know that’s not who you are.” This way, you give the person a chance to live up to your expectations, apologize, and make things right.

Most of the time, people are just doing the best they can with the resources they have. They may be completely unaware of how they have negatively impacted you. Give the person the benefit of the doubt and allow him or her the opportunity to heal the relationship and make things right again.

No matter how thin you slice it, there are always two sides.
- Tony Robbins

This excerpt is taken from my Communication Excellence II: Conquering Conflicts with Difficult People seminar.

Communication Excellence II: Conquering Conflicts With Difficult People


I encourage you to order my Negotiation Excellence video program, which covers this topic in much greater detail.

Negotiation Excellence


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