I’ve been reading the Sunday New York Times and discovering many people find themselves locked in arguments about our political choices. I certainly share the concern expressed by many, but when I read that some couples could be on the verge of divorce because they disagree, I think it’s a good idea to examine some ways to explore differences whether heated like those being reported, based on our up coming election, or value clashes in general.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ve seen suggestions for facing conflict and finding ways to talk across differences and problem solve. Remember this one principle about conflict: it’s not conflict that is a bad/challenging/disruptive thing; it’s UNRESOLVED conflict that causes so many problems and truly gets in the way of relationships both at home and at work. Consequently, when you find yourself mired down, it’s good — most of the time — to begin by looking at your own behavior, to analyze your ideas, feelings, position as well as the stance you’ve taken in the communication…..
So I’m giving you a technique you might try. Let me say at the outset that it’s brief, basic, simple in terms of instruction and technique. BUT speaking from my own efforts to use it, it’s truly hard. Yes, simple, but hard!
Grab a piece of paper. Write in as much detail as you want, your position in the conflict. Let’s say for example that your issue IS the election. So regardless of your political decisions and choices about who to vote for, write your position or choice and the crux of your argument in as much detail as possible. Make sure you’ve stated your position in a clear way to maximize communication with the person you are in disagreement with.
NOW MAKE A LIST OF ALL THE REASONS YOU COULD BE WRONG……
Told you it was hard!
Remember it’s an exercise. Regardless, be honest with yourself. As you write, pay attention to all the thoughts (and realize that you will be prone to thought distortion), beliefs, and feelings that come to the foreground of your mind. You can write those as well, just make sure your main list is REASONS YOU COULD BE WRONG ON THE POSITION YOU ARE TAKING.
IF you are a journal writer, pick up your journal when you are finished with your lists, and reflect a bit on the experience. See what you have learned about yourself. Then see what you might want to do with the information.
There’s no suggestion beyond this…..it’s a self analysis tool. And it’s a good way to uncover bias — especially the type of bias most of us carry around that goes unexamined. I don’t know about you, but when I’m not engaging in self examination of a position I’ve taken about ANYTHING that’s important to me, I realize it’s because I KNOW I’M RIGHT! And consequently, when I know I’m right, I know I’m not listening….. and I’m moving toward a WRONG HEADED DECISION.
Let me know how the process works. And remember I didn’t say you should like it!
Hear the conversation with Dr Linda Moore and Mike Manko at SteveAndMikeRadio.com.