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27 Sep '12

Can we talk? Three key questions in relational disconnect

Posted by T.J. Addington in conflict, problem solving, reconciliation, Restoration
It is amazing what a conversation can do - especially when there is conflict, disagreement or a relationship gone wrong. Conflict and misunderstanding thrive on silence and assumptions. Conversation makes even those we demonize human and at least understanding is possible when two parties are talking. None, when they are not.

Now there are times when further discussion is counter-productive, especially when dealing with passive aggressive individuals or those you cannot trust to not use the conversation against you. So there are times when we choose silence over conversation - strategically.

But in most cases the way to resolution between parties is a conversation with some good clarifying questions, a lot of non defensive listening, and a candid statement of where we are coming from. Several questions are key:

How did we get here?
Do we both want to find a way forward?
What will it take to resolve this?

The first question clarifies the facts or the perception of the facts. It is not about blame but about the facts as we can understand them.

The second question is critical because it calls the question on whether both parties actually want to find a common solution. If no, then further discussion is fruitless. If yes, there is hope for a common solution. Asking the question has the potential to change the conversation from blame and acrimony to "OK this is where we are, legs figure out how to move forward because we both desire that. 

The third question is a collaborative one. It requires both parties to think together as to how they can resolve the issue at hand.

There is not always a way forward. There is not always a will for both parties to find a way forward. But without conversation you will never know.