I have been reading the book The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. The book has been a gift – the story-sharing way it has been written in is keeping me captivated (which can be a test for me with non-fiction) and I’ve got lots of pages folded down to go back & reread because of how it is challenging my current way of thinking.
This week I put one of these learnings into action.
I have been struggling with a situation in my life for some time. I have a person I must deal with and we see things differently. There is no “I’m right, they are wrong” finger pointing; simply, two very different viewpoints, both of which can include emotional hijacking, in an instant.
The Art of Possibility challenged me to consider what common goal or ground we might share in a tough conversation like this. I came up with two.
For a week, every time I thought of the situation I would bring myself to back to “What is the common goal here, Nancy?” and “Through that common goal, how does that impact your approach/perspective/next step?” This practise with myself, including sometimes saying it out loud, helped me begin to shift my own perspective and just as importantly, move to a healthier, objective approach to the conversation.
After a week of practising the skill on myself, I had the actual conversation this past Friday. It was still a challenge, and it was also better. It was better because the anchoring to the common goal helped us both stay more objective. I literally named our common goal 15 times in the 60- minute conversation to have that anchor happen. And that is A-ok.
It was a step we both needed. And without a third/neutral person doing it for us, I was glad to do.
To recap, here are my 4 helpful steps to follow when you are in conflict situation, including the new one from The Art of Possibility:
-Get clear on what the issue/behaviour is (versus the person)
-Assess whether you are filtering it emotional or objectively
-Challenge yourself to figure out what the common goal/ground is for you both in the situation
-Use this common goal/ground to stay neutral and be your own touch stone throughout the conversation
Where do you need to practise this process this week?
Go for it. If I can do it, you definitely can xo