Most people approach differences of opinions with other people attempting to defend their point of view. Our intention may be to defend our personal position, but most people view our defensive stance as attacking their viewpoint. It can create confrontation and easily leads to interpersonal issues with the other person. This approach to conflict resolution creates many avoidable arguments in the workplace and home.
So how can we present our point of view without creating this reaction in people? The key is to learn to see the situation from the other’s point of view and address it from within their viewpoint as well as from our own. We can still express our thoughts and feelings about a situation using this approach, but it usually produces a very different outcome.
This technique is an excellent way to approach all communication, whether with family, friends, work colleagues or strangers. We learn to express our thoughts, concerns and ideas and even disagree with others, but acknowledge verbally and through our body language, that the other person has the right to their opinions and thoughts about the issue causing the disagreement.
This approach maintains a relationship between two people that acknowledges that no one position is more valid than another’s views, perspectives or thoughts. This does not mean that both ideas are equally valid but conveys the understanding that the other person has a right to the thoughts or opinions about the situation causing the disagreement. This approach values the relationship and validates the person, whilst not necessarily validating the problem or the suggested solution.
There is an old saying that states, “you will never know another person until you first walk in their shoes.” Trying to approach and diffuse a situation from their perspective enables us to walk in their shoes in the situation. It changes the “I want” statements, which presents the issue from our perspective to the “I know you feel this way and can understand why you do, but may I present another idea or show you why that idea is not the best one.”
As we learn and apply this technique in our lives, it becomes obvious we have gained insight into an extremely important life lesson that validates and maintains relationships, even if we don’t agree with the other person. It helps us to approach potential conflict situations in a non-confrontational way that promotes discussion and resolution.