Resolve Conflicts Constructively with Nonviolent Communication

When there's a conflict you sometimes blur things out that you do not mean. Like, "You never take me into considerations!", or, "What a ridiculous suggestion. Can't you do anything right?" Of course this kinds of rants don't help any situation. Kevin asks expert in face to face communication Frederik Imbo how to deal with conflict constructively so both parties win.

24-09-2014 -  by Kevin Van der Straeten

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When there's a conflict you sometimes blur things out that you do not mean. Like, "You never take me into considerations!", or, "What a ridiculous suggestion. Can't you do anything right?" Of course this kinds of rants don't help any situation. I ask expert in face to face communication Frederik Imbo how to deal with conflict constructively so both parties win.


Hi, Frederik, welcome in studio.


Hello, Kevin.


How do you deal with conflicts?


Yes. This is the one million question of course, because conflicts are attached to emotions. And how contradictory it may seem I think it's really very important to not take a conflict personally and to remain calm. Because, of course, it's not easy. The other person is maybe saying something to you that is really feeling very uncomfortably, like, "Well, you're always very selfish and it's always the same with you!" Can you imagine then, you feel already attacked by the other person.


But how do you deal with them, not feeling attacked by the other person?


While the other one is attacking you, not feeling attacked?




Well, first of all, I think should think about what the other person is saying to you. Instead of taking it personally, you should think, well, actually why is the other person saying what he or she is saying. Because someone people tell me, "Well, it's impossible. The feelings that I feel then are stronger than myself." Do you recognize that feeling?


Yeah, I recognize it.


Well, actually you don't have to be stronger than what you feel, you need to be more clever than what you feel, you need to be more intelligent than what you feel.


And how do you do that?


Well, let me compare this to... Do you have a car?


Yeah, I do.


Are you stronger than your car?




I don't really think so. You don't need to be stronger than your car, I think, you need to be more clever than your car, right?

Well, it's exactly the same with feelings. You do not have to be stronger than your feelings, you need to be more clever than your feelings. The question is, who's at the steering wheel? Who's thinking what he's thinking? For example, the other person says to you, "Well, you're very selfish," instead of reacting out of emotion, first of all think about what the other one is saying. Why is he saying what he's saying? What happened exactly? What did I do that triggered the other persons' emotion? Secondly, what do you think that the other person is needing? What is his need behind what he is saying?


And what about asking it, the other person?


Exactly. You could ask. Normally, we are not asking it, we are just defending ourselves. And we should ask, we should say, "Hey, hey, I see that you're angry, what's up? What did I do that makes you so angry?" And believe me, if you really ask that question out of honesty and out of interest, the other one really answer. For example, he might say, "Well, it's always the same with you. You know, you always take the last coffee and you never fill in some coffee beans. And I'm really fed up with that." So, if you listen to what the other person say, you discover that actually it has nothing to do with yourself. You didn't do something "wrong." Actually the other person just feels what he feels because he has a need, he has a need for taking each other into account, in this case, and by asking it you get into contact with one another and it's the really first step, the really very first step to get a connection with what the other person would like to have with you. Because we don't want to be right, we actually want in conflicts to have the connection. And that is really exactly what a giraffe would do in communication.


A girrafe?


Yes. A giraffe. Because if you deal with conflicts actually there are two parts of us that can be our steering wheel. It can be or the jackal or the giraffe. Let's first talk about that strange animal, the jackal. The jackal is that part in all of us that wants to be right, that is criticizing the other person, that is judging the other person, "It's always the same with you!", and he really wants to be right. Me, myself...


And I.


Me, myself and I, indeed. An eye for an eye...


A tooth for a tooth.


A tooth for a tooth. Exactly. But actually Gandhi said something else. Gandhi said not "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," he said, "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." So, this means if I attack you as a jackal, you will certainly attack me as well. If I say you, "Hey, Kevin, thank you, I had to be here at 9 o'clock and you let me wait for one and a half hour. It's always the same with you!" What will be your reaction in that case?


Well, we had some trouble with previous recordings and it just took some... some time longer.


Exactly. You will defend yourself or attacking me back. And so it will not lead to any connection, it will lead to big, big trouble. So, I need to be more clever than that, and I need to said, instead of "you have to" and "you are" message, I need to change my message from a jackal message to a giraffe message.


And how does that sound like?


The giraffe message would sound, "Kevin, to be honest, I'm a bit frustrated, you asked me to be here at 9 o'clock, I was here at 9 o'clock, and I had to wait for one and half an hour. I have a very tight agenda, it would really be very nice if you could take me into account a bit more and let me know why I had to wait such a long time. Because I really have a very strong need for efficiency."


Yeah, that gives me some empathy for your situation.


Exactly. The wonderful word empathy. I think it everyone would have a bit more this skill of empathy I think there would be much more connection between people and very less tensions then we had before. Did you know why they chose the...


No. I just wanted to ask. Why a giraffe?


Exactly. The giraffe is the animal on earth with the biggest heart. The elephant has a bigger heart, but do you know how big a giraffe's heart is?


No idea.


Actually, eleven kilograms. That's amazing. That's more than a bucket of water. So, it means that the giraffe, kind of a symbol of course to show that we can get into one another's connection from the heart. Not from ego to ego, as a jackal, but from the heart. And emphatically listening to what the other person feels by asking, "Hey, I have the impression that you're fed up because I never fill the coffee beans. Would you like me to take you a bit more into account?" By asking it what the other person is feeling and needing, and also secondly by saying, "What is a life in myself?", by saying like I should you with "I" messages, "I don't like that," or, "I feel angry, or disappointing, because I have a need for X or Y." So, this is what the giraffe is doing. And it's not bad as well, because you... As a giraffe you make sure that you are not making the other person bankrupt.




Bankrupt. What has bankrupt got to do with conflicts?




Did you know, Kevin, that every time you get into conflict with one another, every time again, you are putting money, emotional money saying, on the emotional bank account of the other person?




If I, for example, if I'n always judging you and I say, "Hey, it's always the same with you. I try to do my best and you never give me positive feedback. I'm fed up. You know what? You can do it yourself." When I speak like that I'm taking money out of your bank account, I'm stealing it from your bank account. And one day your really fed up with that, and I do not get anything done by you, because, yeah, you have no more money.


I'm bankrupt.


You're bankrupt. But if I really take you into account, if I emphatically listen to what is [inaudible] you, and also show what is [inaudible] me by expressing what I feel and what I need, and really want to take into account you, I'm always putting some money on your bank account. And in that way, if I one day I have a bad day and I'm judging you once, there is no big deal with that. Because I have invested so much money on your bank account that you really want to give me with a lot of pleasure out of your heart the interest of my investments.


Okay. I hope all these tips will help us put a lot of money on the others' bank account then.


Well, I really hope it. And I hope a lot of people can become a bit more giraffe and that it can lead to more connection between human beings when they have a conflict.


Frederik, people can find more information on your website?


Of course. They can surf by making a connection, connection


Thank you very much.


You're welcome.


And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.