How you handle conflict can prevent a whole lot of drama and bring you to resolution far quicker.
In the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Harvey challenges Butch for leadership of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang. Butch delays the confrontation by saying, “No, no, not yet. Not until me and Harvey get the rules straightened out.”
Harvey, confused, responds, “Rules? In a knife fight? No rules.”
Butch immediately kicks Harvey, dropping him like a sack of stolen loot. Says Cassidy, “Well, if there ain’t going to be any rules, let’s get the fight started. Someone count. One, two three, go.”
Sundance blurts, “One, two three, go,” at which point Butch knocks Harvey out.
Butch, obviously not concerned with a long-lasting peaceful relationship, might argue his method of conflict resolution was highly effective. However, his technique is frowned upon today (as tempting as it might feel in our darker moments).
Step one is realize that even the finest communicators — with the more honorable intentions — occasionally find themselves in hot water. Communication is far from an exact science, and even when it’s not our fault, the Big Hairy Argument Monster still tromps into our lives. We cannot avoid him; try as we may.
So, when you find yourself at loggerheads with a co-worker, customer, or spouse or life partner, it’s essential to understand that how you handle it makes an enormous, long-lasting difference. By making a simple agreement in how to disagree, we add a basic structure that keep things moving forward, clears things up quicker, and prevents long-lasting, lingering bad feelings, which could damage the relationship. In my workshop presentation, “Oops, I didn’t Mean it To Come out that Way,” I go over some simple tools to help out, following is one of those rules.