By Patricia Omoqui
This week I’d like to give you a peek into my daily correspondence with readers. About a month ago, I received an email from someone frustrated about conflict with a good friend.Â To protect her privacy, I’ll call her Yemi. Here is the email:
“My best friend always makes us argue needlessly and the relationship is wearing me down. Please advise me. Thanks.”
Here is my response: Dear Friend, I would question the idea, “My best friend always makes us argue.” You are choosing to engage.Â It takes two people to have an argument and you are one of them. Why do you continue the conflict by defending yourself and your ideas?
One of my favorite authors (Byron Katie) says, “Defense is the first act of war.” War means conflict. Conflict, whether personal or national, is a form of war.
Your friend may want to fight about issues on which your viewpoints differ. Why not say, “I have no desire to argue with you or hurt you. Let’s talk about something else.” Using this approach may help you end this vicious, destructive cycle of wasted energy.
Give that a try. Don’t defend. If you know a conversation is headed toward negativity, stop it or walk away.Â Lighten up and laugh rather than taking what your friend says as personal. Realize that her intensity simply shows how important her opinions are to her.
Let me know how it goes.
After this interchange I decided to update my status on Facebook to…
Here’s a challenge. For the entire weekend have no arguments with friends or family members. In fact, begin to see that you need not defend, you can just listen to the other person and show genuine interest in their perspective.
This update stimulated some interesting responses. Below is a sample.
“That is so hard to do when you have people who are not sailing in the same boat as you, thanks for the advice, will try.”
“I pray God help me to do this.”
Responding to all the comments on my status, I replied: Hi All, Let’s just notice that we need not convince anyone we are right. If we stop doing this, almost all conflict ends.Â We can be who we are AND allow others to have their views. Peace grows when we do this. Imagine all the energy we can save if we stop the conflict! Let me know it goes.
Meanwhile, Yemi wrote me back, “I am going to call my friend right now and apologize. I most definitely will give your advice a shot. Thanks a million.”
I encouraged her further: Remember to find the good in her.Â Look for what you like about her. What makes the two of you friends? If you focus on the positive, you will enjoy each other.Â If you are looking to pick apart differences and judge each other, the friendship will be no fun and will most likely disintegrate. If you find the commonalities and create common ground, you will generate acceptance, respect and love.Â Thank you for sharing your situation with me. Your email has inspired me to write an entire article on moving beyond conflict to peace.
Yemi wrote back, “I’m truly honored that you will use my story to help others.”
How are you doing with your relationships?Â Are you caught in a negative cycle of disagreement and attack with those you love most? If so, here are some ideas to help you increase peace in your life.
1.Â Take stock of yourself.Â Before pointing your finger at someone else, look closely at your own behavior. Are you aggressive? Do you belittle others or raise your voice when they differ with you? Take an honest look at how you come across.Â We often want to blame others for the conflict without noticing that our defensiveness is adding fuel to the fire. If you were relaxed and confident, would you be able to listen to the other person’s comments with a calm spirit and an open mind?Â If you find that you are also attacking, exchanging tit for tat, own your part and apologize. Peace begins with you.
2.Â Â Use conversations to understand each other rather than fight. Really listen. Don’t mentally compose your defense while the other person is talking. Instead, concentrate.Â Take the ideas they share (even if they are observations about you) into your mind and heart. Give them honest consideration. Wouldn’t you want the other person to do this for you?
3.Â Â Â Allow others to have their viewpoints.Â Â When someone holds a differing opinion, you need not see it as a threat to you. Start a new trend.Â The fact that you and your friend have different ideas doesn’t mean you don’t value each other. It means you have an opportunity to practice honoring another person. Allow each other to be self-determining.
4.Â Â Â Offer the respect you want. Each of us is entitled to a viewpoint. Based on our experiences, family history, and personality we have unique perspectives.Â Rather than fighting to see who is “right,” why not see this as an opportunity to learn more about the other person’s perspective? The world moves forward because we bring to it insights from many angles. Honest dialogue brings progress.Â Determine to share your ideas calmly. Encourage others to do the same. Then hear your friends out to show respect for your friends and their ideas.
5.Â Â Â Open your heart and mind. You don’t have to share a perspective to honor it. Find a way to acknowledge the validity of your friend’s ideas.Â Byron Katie (www.thework.com) taught me some affirming ways to respond,Â “I can understand how you would feel that way,” or “I can make room for that,” or “Tell me more.”
You might be curious about how things turned out with Yemi. I wanted to know too so I checked in with her.Â Here is what she said, “I determined to stop arguing and focus on the good in my friend. . . it has worked like magic. I even love her more.
Thank you so much.”
If Yemi can do it, we can to. Let’s increase peace and love in our world. Your assignment this week is to set an intention to refrain from arguing.Â Do your best to listen wholeheartedly to people who have other perspectives. Resist the urge to prove yourself right and them wrong. Rather than judging, focus on all that is good in the other person.Â Then, notice how much better your relationships become. It’s up to each one of us to end the cycle that fuels conflict and hurt.
Be the peace you want to see in your world!
If you need a speaker for an upcoming event or to inspire your staff or group members, please drop me an email!Â I’m here to help individuals and organizations develop into their full, amazing potential.
Food For Thought
“If you have learned how to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secret of getting along — whether it be business, family relations, or life itself.
Author: Bernard Meltzer
Ã“ Patricia G. Omoqui 2009, All Rights Reserved
Patricia Omoqui, The Thought Dr. TM, is an internationally recognized inspirational speaker, life coach and writer.Â Patricia’s mission in life is to inspire people to move beyond fear so they can reach their full potential.
To share your thoughts about this article, please email Patricia at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her at her website: www.patriciaomoqui.com .