Reconciliation. That’s certainly the buzz word going around these days. I’m really proud to see all the recent facebook messages and status updates going around: positive messages of racial harmony and how we all need each other. Faith in our country restored. So apart from posting a status update of my own recently, here’s my contribution towards reconciliation:
How do you make up and reconcile with your significant other when dealing with a conflict? Here are some pointers straight from Aaron’s book of reconciliation tactics. Let’s spread the love…
We live in an age of short messages, real time chat and addiction to smartphones. All of these are great communication tools for everyday life, but whenever there’s a conflict – make sure the communication is done face to face. A telephone conversation is a great way to set a time for a date. But it’s a terrible way to resolve a conflict. An email, facebook message or instant message is even worse. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who works in an office environment how misunderstood emails cause more problems and headache in the workplace than the worst PMS-affected she-devil boss.
Why? Experts will tell you that communication is made up mostly from non verbal cues. It’s extremely easy to misinterpret faceless words through a phone speaker or on a screen. Especially when one is upset. When emotions are running high in a conflict, the most innocuous and contrite text message can start sounding like Hitler’s declaration of war. So, don’t leave any room for further misunderstanding. Resolve the conflicts in person.
The motives behind the actions
Understand that most people don’t harbor evil intentions or want to purposely hurt others. They’re just trying to meet their needs and wants. It just so happens that their actions have inadvertently stepped on others’ toes. Try to look deeper than the “evil” actions, and understand the motives of the person. This includes your own actions and motives.
- You scream at your boyfriend because he pays more attention to the football game than you.
Wrong action: screaming at him and causing an argument.
Legitimate motive: you just want him to pay more attention and care to you.
Better solution: wait till after the game, and talk it out – let him know you need him to show you more care and affection.
- Your boyfriend doesn’t want to go to your friend’s party and keeps changing the topic whenever you ask him.
Wrong action: avoiding the topic like a wuss
Legitimate motive: he actually feels left out among your friends and doesn’t seem to have anything in common to talk about.
Better solution: let him know you won’t continue to keep nagging him to go, but you first need to understand why he’s not happy to meet your friends.
By separating the offending action from the motive, you’ll be able to see the root cause of the conflict much better. Most people get hung up on the actions instead – which doesn’t at all help to resolve the conflict.
Admit when you are wrong
Admit it. You can’t be right all the time. Nothing helps diffuse a conflict more than a party willing to part with his/her ego and say “Ok I was wrong. I screwed up.” This gives space to the other party to think “Ok – she’s starting to give up ground, perhaps I should start being more gracious too.”
If you’re reading this paragraph, nodding righteously and saying to yourself “He should read this. He never admits it when he’s wrong”, please re-read it until you get my point. It’s very rarely the fault of just one party when there is a conflict. That’s assuming your partner is not a total jerk. If he is, admit you were wrong in choosing him. Then dump him.
Apologize with a way ahead
Elton John once sang “sorry seems to be the hardest word”. I respectfully disagree. The more civilized ones among us seem to have no problems saying sorry. In fact, I’d argue that sorry is one of the most overused words today. People say sorry for all kinds of trivial matters. So before you say it, think about if you’re really sorry. And what are you sorry about?
(I’m sorry because our argument is now making me miss my weekly episode of American Idol is not acceptable)
If you’re going to apologize, sincerely mean it. And then state how you’re going to do things differently to prevent the same conflict in the future. For example, “I’m sorry I called you a lazy cow for not doing the dishes. I’ll make sure never to call you animal names in the future”.
Touch is an underrated way of communication. Test it out. The next time you screw up and need to apologize, just sincerely say “I’m sorry” and hug your significant other tightly. Don’t say anything else and don’t let go even though he may have an initial reluctance to respond. It’ll definitely work better than any other way of apologizing that includes lots of words thrown in but with no touch.
This isn’t to say that verbal communication isn’t important. It is (refer to the few paragraphs above). Just remember that touch is extremely powerful. So make sure you use it. Touch him apologetically when you’re apologizing. Touch him tenderly to show him that you still care about him. And touch him passionately once you’re over the conflict and into the making out up.