Handling Conflict Respectfully ~ Acknowledgement and Clarifying Questions

Screen Shot 2012-12-04 at 5.31.56 AMContinuing the topic of handling conflict, I want to look at the idea of using clarifying questions and acknowledgements.  When you are smack in the middle of a conflict it is so easy to slip into proving your right, convincing your spouse that your way is the only way to look at the problem, or even just continuing the conflict for the sake of winning the war.  These approaches may bring submission from your spouse and you may feel that you have won the battle but the price you pay for that victory often comes at the expense of hurt and damage to your relationship and your spouse.  This is not a price a loving husband or submitted, honoring wife should be willing to pay.  Winning the battle at all cost is a price to high to pay.

Conflict resolution should always be approached from a win-win point of view.  Agreement and peace are some of the most valuable treasures in a relationship.  There is great power when a husband and wife are in agreement.  So conflict resolution is about finding the place where you both can be in agreement and in peace.  When you find yourself in conflict with your spouse using acknowledgements demonstrates that you are truly hearing what they are saying and validates their position.  This technique will bring about a quicker resolution from a calmer place.  Acknowledging statements might include: “I see where you’re coming from.” “That is a good point.” “I can understand where you got that from what I said.” These are just a few of the types of statements that indicate you are still actively listening to the other person.  It also demonstrates your willingness to see their point of view.

Another technique that brings about a quicker more peaceful resolution to conflict is the use of clarifying questions.  We don’t all come into conversations or conflicts from the same perspective.  So by asking clarifying questions such as, “Can you help me better understand that?” or “can you tell me more about that?” lets your spouse know they have been heard and it allows you to get more information on the table so both sides can find a resolution easier.  This technique is especially helpful if you are a person who tends to think quickly and are likely to begin formulating your opinion, decision, or response to the conflict before you have fully heard what your spouse is saying.  By actively listening with the idea that you may need to have further clarification of your spouse’s point, puts you in a receiving mode instead of a conflict winning mode.  This is a great way to keep yourself fully engaged in what your spouse is saying.

Utilizing these two techniques in conflict with help promote a peaceful, win-win resolution.  If you are like me you may need to practice these techniques.  The great thing about these techniques is you can practice them in everyday conversation.  This gives you the opportunity to practice without the added stress that you have when you are in the middle of a heated conflict.  Like anything else, the more you do something the better you get at it.  So as you go about your day, practice using acknowledgements and asking clarifying questions.  You will become a better listener, the person you are in conversation with will feel more validated, they will feel like they have been heard, and you will be better equipped to use these techniques to help resolve conflict in the future.

Peace and unity are beautiful things!


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