There is one thing that if not done right will undermine and destroy your relationships. But if you take the time and invest in this one key relationship principle, you’ll grow and strengthen your relationships.
Scott and Dina discuss the most important factor in preserving relationships, and that is communication. This may seem obvious. We’ve all experienced the positive and negative results that come from good and bad communication. What is not obvious are the underlying reasons that some attempts at communication are fruitful while others are less than satisfactory.
The first aspect of communication that is helpful to understand is that there are distinctly different styles, and certain combinations are very challenging. Much has been written about this area of human relations, but for purposes of this discussion we will examine three primary styles.
First are the volatile communicators. They tend to be loud and passionate. They frequently use hand gestures and you always know where they stand. This is a learned behavior and typical of certain cultures such as Italian and Middle Eastern. A side note is that passionate communicators report greater passion in other areas of their relationships.
Second are the negotiators. When conflict arises, they will thoughtfully acknowledge the other person’s point of view, and are ready to sit down and calmly discuss the matter. This will be viewed by many to be the Christian approach. There is typically less passion in their relationships.
A third distinct group are the avoiders. Their tendency is to walk away from conflict, avoiding it whenever possible. They hold onto the memories of past discomfort and resist any discussion that might lead to feeling that way again.
The reason it’s important to understand these different communication styles is that the greatest risk of destroying our relationships occurs when we fail at conflict resolution. This is when friendships are broken and marriages end in divorce. Conflict is inevitable, and how we handle it determines whether it’s going to damage or strengthen our relationships. While it might appear that the negotiators have a better grasp of conflict resolution, the fact is that none of the styles are wrong and they can all work. The key is that both parties use the same one. If they are predisposed to different styles, one or both must change. The good news is that communication styles can be chosen, and the conscious effort pays off. You can imagine the pain and frustration of a “volatile” and an “avoider” trying to work through a serious issue while stuck in their inherent styles. (Or maybe you don’t need to imagine this.) Even avoiders can negotiate as long as they feel safe and have a way out of the discussion at any given moment.
In summary, the first step is to determine what kind of communicator we are, then we identify the style of the person with whom we seek resolution. After that we either agree on the style we are both going to use or, if necessary, we accommodate the other person’s style. Finally we agree on the ground rules; what is allowed and what is not. Examples of what might not be permitted are name calling or threats. An allowed condition might be giving the other person some time and space if they ask for it. It’s as simple as that!
This is the formula for effective conflict resolution without destroying your relationships. For more helpful teachings on human (and spiritual) relations don’t miss an episode of NOTW Christian Podcast.