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Things That We Seldom Tell Each Other

Things That We Seldom Tell Each Other

If you have spent any time around young children you will know that they are generally more honest and forthcoming than adults. After playing with a friend’s four-year-old for ten minutes he looked me in the eye and said, “I like you. Let’s be friends.” As we grow older we quickly learn that some things are not “appropriate” to say—even if they are nice things.

Our culture makes it so easy to feel isolated by technology and social politeness. It’s time to start reintroducing these simple truths to our everyday conversation with the people around us. If we begin to tell each other more emotionally honest and vulnerable things, we will be able to foster deeper connections with each other and encourage each other on a more foundational level.

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“I like you. Let’s be friends.”

Maybe those exact words aren’t the best ones to use… but why not!? In adult friendships it’s rarely appropriate to express a genuine, platonic enjoyment of each other. I have met people in my adult years that I just hit it off with. We talked well together. We had similar interests. They made me laugh. I honestly wanted to develop a deeper friendship with them but I didn’t have the confidence to tell them, “Hey—I like you. Let’s be friends” and those people filtered out of my life. I will never have those friendships.

If we have the confidence to be honest about our affections for people we will have the chance to develop deep friendships with the people we choose to have in our life.

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“I forgive you.”

When children hurt each other on the playground there is generally a sprinkle of tears, a round of comfort, an admittance of guilt and request for forgiveness. Often the child who was hurt responses with, “I forgive you.” and the games continue. When adults hurt each other and ask for forgiveness the most common responses are, “It’s okay.” or “Don’t worry about it.” These flippant phrases that we toss out at each other are not very helpful in truly resolving conflict. If we can own that a situation was hurtful, but you still forgive someone there is healing for ourselves and healing for the other person.

“I’m here.”

When someone we love is going through a difficult time there is all this pressure to say or do the right thing. When a friend is grieving or struggling you can’t fix their pain. Trying would only cause further pain.The best way to support your loved ones is to simply say, “I’m here.” Just being present for your friend through their pain is the most honest and helpful way you can love your friend.

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“I need help. Will you help me?”

Some where in the process of adolescence we stop admitting our weaknesses. Our culture praises self-starters who don’t ask for help and don’t need any. Pretending to have it all figured out is now the expectation. We are told to “pull ourselves up by our boot straps” and “fake it ’til you make it.” But we are not created to live life in isolation. We need each other. There is not one person on this planet that would reach their highest potential on their own. We have the capability to help each other be better versions of ourselves. By admitting your imperfections you are able to grow. Inviting each other into our imperfections allows us to become a better community—a community that cares for each other. We need to tell each other when we need help so our friends and family have the opportunity to intervene in our lives and give us the support we need.

Being able to tell each other these simple and honest phrases takes vulnerability and courage, but without those things we will never create deep and meaningful relationships. We tell each other these things often enough, but we should start saying them now.

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Featured photo credit: Dan Cooper via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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