What is the quickest way to squash conflict? As much as you may want to relax and avoid the issue, that’s actually not the best way to de-escalate problems. The most powerful way to deal with anger and conflicts is to use empathy.
Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person, is a tool that we can use to overcome barriers that threaten relationships and foster a sense of connection. Developing empathy means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and trying to consider their motivations, desires, fears, and goals. When you allow yourself to see things from someone else’s position, you’re less likely to condemn, judge, and criticize. Instead of viewing a conflict as “Me vs. Them”, you may find yourself more apt to recognize the other person’s struggle.
It’s obvious that everyone has their sticking points and sensitive spots, however, it’s not obvious that those things might be influencing someone’s behavior. We might get upset when a co-worker seems to have a short fuse one day, but not know that a parent becoming ill is the source of the additional stress. Without a crystal ball, we don’t have the ability to know everything that’s happening in someone’s life. However, we do have the ability to meet the short fuse with a bit of kindness instead of getting annoyed.
When people are in stress mode, their nervous system is preparing them for a fight. Your smile, easy tone of voice, or a kind gesture to offer someone a cup of coffee, might be just the right antidote to the situation.
We all know how hard it is to collaborate with people who seem to only be thinking of themselves. We dread having to interact with them since it seems that they can’t work together without having to put themselves and their ideas first. This narcissism is really just a way that a person shows that they have no empathy. It probably also means that the person is quite fearful and clinging to a flimsy sense of self. It’s probably safe to say that the last thing you want to do is extend the empathy to the Ms. Know-it-All who has none, but that might be just the thing she needs. A display of kindness will not only take her stress down a few notches but also send a peaceful message to the whole group. You’ve set the tone of patience and tolerance for the rest of the group’s interactions.
When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems. -Stephen Covey
It is no secret that it takes a strong person to make the first move toward empathy. However, in doing so, the overall success of the group takes a leap forward. Can you be strong enough to lead with kindness?
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6 Things You Need to Know About Empathy. Retrieved fromhttps://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/tech-support/201701/6-things-you-need-know-about-empathy Weisz, E., & Zaki, J. (2018).
Motivated empathy: a social neuroscience perspective.Current Opinion In Psychology,24, 67-71.doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2018.05.005