Conflict is Awesome

Ever have one of those conflict weeks? Where it's time to have some conversations, ready or not? Here they come?

Me neither. 

Raise your hand if you think conflict is awesome? Right. Thanks, all three of you. So, let's be learners, shall we? Here's a great conflict rule I was recently reading about: SET.

Jerold Kreisman, M.D. put together the simple SET formula: Support, Empathy, Truth.

Support: Start with letting the person know you care about them and desire to be there for them. Saying: "I care about you and our friendship" can mean a lot. This let's them know you value this relationship above the conflict. 

Empathy: Express to them that you want to understand their feelings and what they might be going through. We might not be able to exactly relate, but we can take time to get into their shoes. See life from their lens. This takes listening. Maybe a lot of it. 

Truth: After you have shared support and empathy - you can share the reality with them or concern. Sharing what has made the conflict happen to begin with. 

What I like about SET is it turns me away from my self-focus and toward my friend, spouse or co-worker. It says: I want to hear you and understand you. You are valuable. Things aren't black and white. I want to listen to ALL the gray. 

SET has been helpful with my children, too.

What I WANT to do is just dish out truth, because -  let's be real - handing out truth is easier and more efficient than Supporting and Empathizing about a lost, tiny, impossibly small Polly-pocket yellow high heal. That thing is half of my pinky finger nail. I just may have vacuumed it up accidentally. And the truth about that may not be what she needs right then.

What she needs is a hug. And her mom to say, "Losing a shoe is sad. Been there, girlfriend. Cinderella knows all about your pain."

SET makes me slow down and listen. It makes me stop, stoop down, see her world from her little view. I watch people who are effortlessly empathetic and I admire that. It's a very real, constant practice in my life.

Daily. Every. Single. Day.  

The last thought on conflict that has helped me lately (in all kinds of relationships) has been from Brene Brown. She crushes it on the matter of feedback, conflict and vulnerability:

I know I am ready to give and get feedback when:

I’m ready to sit next to you rather than across from you.

I’m willing to put the problem in front of us rather than between us (or sliding it toward you).

I’m ready to listen, ask questions, and accept that I may not fully understand the issue.

I want to acknowledge what you do well instead of picking apart your mistakes.

I recognize your strengths and how you can use them to address your challenges.

I can hold you accountable without shaming or blaming you.

I’m willing to own my part.

I can genuinely thank you for your efforts rather than criticize you for your failings.

I can talk about how resolving these challenges will lead to your growth and opportunity.

I can model the vulnerability and openness that I expect to see from you.
— Brene Brown

Ready, SET, Happy conflicting. May this be just what you need in your next awesome conflict. 

*Navigating Conflict by Brittany Rust was a great resource 

Amy Seiffert