By Patricia G Omoqui
This week Iâ€™d like to give you a peek into my daily correspondence with readers.Â About a month ago, I received anÂ email from someone frustrated about conflict with a good friend.Â To protect her privacy, Iâ€™ll call her Yemi.Â HereÂ is the email:
â€œMy best friend always makes us argue needlessly and the relationship is wearing me down. Please advise me.Â Thanks.â€
Here is my response:Â Dear Friend, I would question the idea, â€œMy best friend always makes us argue.â€ You areÂ choosing to engage.Â It takes two people to have an argument and you are one of them.Â Why do you continue theÂ conflict by defending yourself and your ideas?
One of my favorite authors (Byron Katie) says, â€œDefense is the first act of war.â€ War means conflict.Â Conflict,Â whether personal or national, is a form of war.Â Your friend may want to fight about issues on which your viewpointsÂ differ.Â Why not say, â€œI have no desire to argue with you or hurt you.Â Letâ€™s talk about something else.â€ Using thisÂ approach may help you end this vicious, destructive cycle of wasted energy.
Give that a try.Â Donâ€™t defend.Â If you know a conversation is headed toward negativity, stop it or walk away.Â Â Â Lighten up and laugh rather than taking what your friend says as personal.Â Realize that her intensity simply showsÂ how important her opinions are to her.
Let me know how it goes.
After this interchange I decided to update my status on Facebook toâ€¦
Hereâ€™s a challenge.Â For the entire weekend have no arguments with friends or family members. In fact, begin to seeÂ 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.Â Below is a sample.
â€œThat is so hard to do when you have people who are not sailing in the same boat as you, thanks for the advice, willÂ try.â€
â€œI pray God help me to do this.â€
Responding to all the comments on my status, I replied:Â Hi All, Letâ€™s just notice that we need not convince anyoneÂ we are right.Â If we stop doing this, almost all conflict ends.Â We can be who we are AND allow others to have theirÂ views.Â Peace grows when we do this.Â Imagine all the energy we can save if we stop the conflict! Let me know itÂ goes.
Meanwhile, Yemi wrote me back, â€œI am going to call my friend right now and apologize.Â I most definitely will giveÂ your advice a shot.Â Thanks a million.â€
I encouraged her further:Â Remember to find the good in her.Â Look for what you like about her.Â What makes the twoÂ of you friends?Â If you focus on the positive, you will enjoy each other.Â If you are looking to pick apartÂ differences and judge each other, the friendship will be no fun and will most likely disintegrate. If you find theÂ commonalities and create common ground, you will generate acceptance, respect and love.Â Thank you for sharing yourÂ situation with me.Â Your email has inspired me to write an entire article on moving beyond conflict to peace.
Yemi wrote back, â€œIâ€™m truly honored that you will use my story to help others.â€
How are you doing with your relationships?Â Are you caught in a negative cycle of disagreement and attack with thoseÂ you love most?Â If so, here are some ideas to help you increase peace in your life.
1.Â Â Â Take stock of yourself.Â Before pointing your finger at someone else, look closely at your own behavior.Â AreÂ you aggressive?Â Do you belittle others or raise your voice when they differ with you?Â Take an honest look at howÂ you come across.Â Â We often want to blame others for the conflict without noticing that our defensiveness is addingÂ fuel to the fire.Â If you were relaxed and confident, would you be able to listen to the other personâ€™s comments withÂ a calm spirit and an open mind?Â Â If you find that you are also attacking, exchanging tit for tat, own your part andÂ apologize.Â Peace begins with you.
2. Use conversations to understand each other rather than fight.Â Really listen.Â Donâ€™t mentally compose your defenseÂ while the other person is talking.Â Instead, concentrate.Â Take the ideas they share (even if they are observationsÂ about you) into your mind and heart.Â Give them honest consideration.Â Wouldnâ€™t you want the other person to do thisÂ for you?
3.Allow others to have their viewpoints. When someone holds a differing opinion, you need not see it as a threat toÂ you.Â Start a new trend.Â The fact that you and your friend have different ideas doesnâ€™t mean you donâ€™t value eachÂ other.Â It means you have an opportunity to practice honoring another person.Â Allow each other to beÂ self-determining.
4.Â Â Â Offer the respect you want.Â Each of us is entitled to a viewpoint.Â Based on our experiences, familyÂ history, and personality we have unique perspectives.Â Rather than fighting to see who is â€œright,â€ why not see thisÂ as an opportunity to learn more about the other personâ€™s perspective?Â The world moves forward because we bring to itÂ insights from many angles.Â Honest dialogue brings progress.Â Determine to share your ideas calmly.Â Encourage othersÂ to do the same.Â Then hear your friends out to show respect for your friends and their ideas.
5.Â Â Â Open your heart and mind.Â You donâ€™t have to share a perspective to honor it.Â Find a way to acknowledge theÂ validity of your friendâ€™s ideas.Â Â Byron Katie (www.thework.com) taught me some affirming ways to respond,Â â€œI canÂ understand how you would feel that way,â€ or â€œI can make room for that,â€œ or â€œTell me more.â€
You might be curious about how things turned out with Yemi.Â I wanted to know too so I checked in with her.Â Here isÂ what she said, â€œI determined to stop arguing and focus on the good in my friend. . . it has worked like magic.Â IÂ even love her more.Â Thank you so much.â€
If Yemi can do it, we can to.Â Letâ€™s increase peace and love in our world.Â Your assignment this week is to set anÂ intention to refrain from arguing.Â Do your best to listen wholeheartedly to people who have other perspectives.Â Â Resist the urge to prove yourself right and them wrong.Â Rather than judging, focus on all that is good in the otherÂ person.Â Then, notice how much better your relationships become.Â Itâ€™s up to each one of us to end the cycle thatÂ 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 Iâ€™mÂ here to help individuals and organizations develop into their full, amazing potential.