312 | Kill Conflict without Killing Your Relationships

Conflict is in every relationship!

The question is, how do you deal with it? How do you keep it from damaging relationships? How do you grow through it?

Learn how to resolve conflict and strengthen your relationship in 5 steps:

Key Takeaways:

  • Step #1 when you’re in conflict to avoid damaging pitfalls [6:40]
  • What will NOT help you in resolving conflict [13:11]
  • What actions and words refuse to take responsibility in conflict and perpetuate the conflict [13:33]
  • Step #2 to shift your focus to resolution [17:19]
  • Step #3 to get both people on the same page [23:28]
  • How to set boundaries when someone is trying to hurt you [20:29] 
  • Step #4 to find growth instead of gridlock [24:52]
  • Step #5 to finally resolve conflict the healthy way [27:15]

Resources:

Download

Episode 276: What Makes us Powerless and How to Stop Victim Mentality

Learn more about finding stronger relationships, and a stronger life here: Next-Level Life

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Chris LoCurto: How to have less conflict and work through it in five steps, that is coming up next.

Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show where we discuss leadership and life and discover that business is what you do, not who you are.

Welcome to the show folks. Today we’re talking about conflict, so I hope you’re ready. I hope you’re able to listen in on this and probably you’re going to recognize some things or experience some stuff as we go through this process. Here’s the deal. My goal for you is to help you to not have to walk through conflict the same way you have. It does not mean that you’re not going to have conflict, but we have done over 300 Next-Level Life Events in this business. And if there’s one thing we know, everybody deals with conflict. Everybody, everybody. It’s not something that you’re not going to deal with. The question is, how do you deal with it? What do you do about it? What do you recognize and how do you change that? I have a team members’ “okay” to use this in this episode today, I had a team member going through Next-Level Life and as we started to dig in and hit some things that were struggles, things that they were experiencing, what we would call surface level responses as I was pressing in by things that she was sharing or things that she was saying she started to respond with

I’m just not seeing what you’re seeing. Well, so let me ask this question. Instead of answering the question, she would answer with something else. Now it’s okay, now does that answer the question I’m asking and we went back and forth for probably, I don’t know, 20 minutes of me trying to help her to see a response that she was having until the point where I could see she was getting frustrated and responded with “I don’t think I’ve got another answer for you.” I think I’m going to keep answering the same answer to where I pressed in on that as well. At one point I just said, “hey, I want you to see something. Is there anything that I’m using that is not a response that you’re giving me?” And that became the moment of, oh my gosh, everything that he’s pressing in on and it wasn’t hard.

It wasn’t painful, it wasn’t difficult. It was gentle pressing, but what she saw was, oh, these are all of my responses. This isn’t anything that Chris said. These are my actual responses. The moment she saw that 180 flip, 180 degrees, she then could see, oh crud, this is how I’m responding. As we talked through it and we went through, what were you experiencing. Because again, guys, this is what we do for a living. This is how we help people to get free from this stuff and as I pressed into discover what she was experiencing, the thing she was experiencing was it felt as though I was attacking by asking the question and then not getting a response to the question and me coming back and saying, okay, now does that answer the question I’m asking? It appeared as though I was attacking and so for her it felt as though I was coming at her with my own stuff as if almost throwing into the mix stuff that was coming from me, the moment that she saw that it had absolutely nothing to do with me, that it was only responses that she had.

It was easy for her to recognize the struggle, the experience that she had when she saw it complete change, moved in a different direction. This is what I want to talk about today. How is it that we get stuck in those moments? What are the things that affect us and cause us to think that way? How is it that we can experience something like somebody’s asking us a question and instead of looking at the question that they’re asking, we apply to it something that we’ve experienced in our past like an authority figure attacking us. So how do we recognize that something that did cause conflict in the past feels like something we’re experiencing right now, but is not. How do we navigate those waters to make sure that we get past any type of conflict? It doesn’t mean that we’re not going to have to face it.

We’ve faced the conflict, we talked through the conflict, we work through the conflict and got phenomenal resolution, which allowed us to go through the next two days on a solid base of understanding and growth and change and all that kind of fun stuff, so we’re going to be talking about this as we go through the five steps today. This is a tool that can strengthen your relationships and whether you’re married or in a longterm relationship or have other personal relationships that have conflicts or conflict with team members or bosses or kids or friends. Whatever it is, this is going to help you today as a tool to work through that conflict. Now, today’s show is brought to you by Next Level Life. Next Level Life is our two day personal discovery experience. It’s a one on one personalized event where you are guided through a process to help you discover your root system, to get unstuck in life, and to discover what’s holding you back from freedom and peace.

What if you could wake up every morning with a clear purpose? What would it look like to have healthier relationships and less conflict? Where would you be in a few months or a year or five years if you had clarity, purpose, and peace? Probably a big difference from where you stand today. I know, I know it’s possible because I’ve been where you asking myself is there more? There is and there is a better way, and it starts with Next Level Life. You can go to Chrislocurto.com/discover to take the next step and if you’re struggling with discontentment, regret or not feeling good enough, if you’re filled with anxiety or your relationships are lacking, don’t keep going through the same motions every single day. Learn how to move past the things robbing you of peace. Now, this episode is all about taking action and getting life change through relationship change.

So here’s the weekly action steps. We’re going to go through these five steps to solve conflict. Number one, the first thing that you need to focus on is self awareness. Guys, this is probably the toughest thing that you’re going to experience. Why? Because whenever conflict comes up, what’s our first thought? Our first thought is, what is this person doing? What is this person saying? What is this person trying to get me to feel or think? We immediately go to the other person because we’re in conflict. So one of the toughest things to do is be self aware. That is something we focus on like crazy here at our office is I need to be aware of what I’m experiencing. What am I feeling? What are my negative emotions? And I need to take responsibility for them. So if your thought is well, it takes two, well, if you’re ready to use these action steps as ammunition against the other person who was the reason for the conflicts in the relationship, as I do my air quotes, then stop right there.

As Aristotle said, knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. Well actually I think God is the beginning of all wisdom Aristotle, but at least he’s on the right path on knowing yourself is really important. So start with you. You are responsible for your emotions and your responses. Nobody can make you feel anything. Nobody can control you except physically if they can physically control you, that’s one thing, but to control your thoughts and your emotions, they can’t control you. They can only highly suggest that you feel a specific way or you think a specific way. You’re the one who’s in control of how you respond. You’re the one in control of feeling negative, having negative emotions, having reactions, having actions. All of that stuff comes from you. So the first step is to recognize your own negative emotions. Are you feeling judgment? Are you feeling jealousy?

Are you feeling anger? Frustration? Are you feeling hurt? You have to recognize those things and then take responsibility for them. Call them out on your self, acknowledged them, simmer down, recognize what it is that you’re experiencing. Now, if you are spewing words in anger or criticizing the other person from a place of defensiveness or feeling offended, then you most likely will sabotage the process and get nowhere. Communicate your frustrations or emotions from a place of clarity, and taking responsibility for them. So here’s kind of what it looks like. You know, if somebody is doing something or says something and all of a sudden you feel hurt, then the first thing to do is to say, what am I feeling or experiencing in this moment? Because chances are your feelings are going to mess you up. Instead of focusing on your feelings, focus on what you’re experiencing in the moment.

It’s okay to ask yourself, what is the thing that I’m feeling? Well I’m feeling hurt. Why am I feeling hurt? Well, because I received this comment poorly and I took it this specific way. I took it to be a an attack or a judgment or or or. So if you stop in the moment and say, what is it that I’m experiencing? What is it that I’m feeling? Well, I’m feeling that this person is trying to attack me. Why do I feel that way? What is it that they actually said? What is it that they’re trying to suggest? If anything, or am I receiving this as something that maybe was a bad situation in my past? I’ll never forget. Years ago I had a client that was going through Next Level Life and as we’re talking through very difficult, painful piece that he had, he stopped and he said, stop yelling at me, and I literally in this voice said, is this yelling?

And he goes, no, but you’re about to yell. And I said, why am I about to yell? He goes, well, I feel like you’re about to yell. And I said, I have no intention of yelling. Let me ask you a question. Have you experienced what you’re feeling right now in the past by a dad? Somebody who would be yelling and rip your head off? Tears just came down, so the pressure of discussing a difficult situation reminded him of how somebody else would have handled it, which would have been ripping his head off, which obviously is no benefit whatsoever, and caused him to become defensive quickly. Put up his walls quickly to protect himself from getting there, thinking that that’s where I was going to go because he was struggling. Wasn’t anything I said wasn’t anything I was doing. He was struggling with what he was feeling in the moment and assigned to it a response that he used to get by somebody else.

I know you’ve never done that, folks. I know everybody listening. You’ve never actually experienced that, right? We all have. We all have the team member that I was talking about at the beginning of the show. Same exact thing. I’m asking, Hey, here’s a question I’d like an answer to. The response she was feeling inside was he’s attacking because this is what I’ve experienced from somebody else in authority in my past. Once you recognize what’s actually happening, what is the person saying? What am I feeling? What am I experiencing? Once you recognize that you can start taking responsibility for your own emotions and you can manage them, they aren’t bad. I’m not saying that your emotions are bad or your feelings are bad. I don’t want you to feel bad about that. I want you to recognize they get you in trouble. Sometimes feeling something, especially when it’s coupled with a thought process or an experience from the past can get you in a lot of trouble, could get you into conflict, can keep you from getting out of conflict, so go ahead and feel them, but let’s get on top of it quickly and discover what is it that I’m feeling?

What do I need to recognize about myself? What am I experiencing in this moment and how do I solve this problem? Instead of responding by “you make me so angry or you’re inconsiderate or hurtful, or you make me feel a specific way,” right? None of that is actually going to help you and your conflict. It’s just going to perpetuate it. So the first thing is we get self aware. When you choose to try and blame somebody else for how you feel. So if you’re using the phrase “you made me feel” or “you’re making me feel,” you’re transferring guilt to the other person, it’s your fault for my feelings. You’re responsible for how I feel right now. Now, this is not in any way, shape or form saying that they haven’t done something wrong. This is not in any way, shape or form saying that they haven’t been a jerk, that they haven’t suggested that you feel something that would be setting your reality right and you can do it right back to the other person by setting their reality.

You’re a jerk, you’re inconsiderate. Well, now you’re setting their reality right, and you may be the one who’s having the problem. So it’s not saying that somebody not doing something that they shouldn’t be doing. The key is to understand what you are experiencing. So one of the things I’ll do a lot in Next-Level Life is pick out a piece of clothing that the client is wearing and just attack it. I mean just attack it “why in the world are you wearing…that is just ugly. Why would you even wear that?” It is a great tool to watch them experience my comment about their clothing. “That shirt…Why would you even wear a shirt that looks like that?” And the amazing thing is they go through these quick emotions. The first is their eyebrows will raise and they will start to receive what I’m saying, is my shirt ugly?

Why does Chris think my shirt is ugly? Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this, and then they’ll quickly realize what I’m doing. Most of the time they’ll realize what I’m doing and they’ll just push back. You know what Chris? It doesn’t matter what you say. It helps them to see that I’m not in control of their feelings. Now, from there, I usually teach them how to set a healthy boundary, which is “Chris, I did not come here for your fashion advice so you can keep your opinions on my fashion. Let’s get back to my Next-Level Life.” That would be a healthy boundary. I didn’t come here and give you money so that you can tell me that my clothes don’t look good. The goal here is to understand how you are feeling in the moment. So what happens is, if we experience something bad from somebody else, even if they’re not saying anything bad, if they push back.

So let’s take the situation with my team member as I’m pressing in and saying, are you answering the question that I’m asking? Does that answer the question that I’m asking and I keep getting different responses, what happens is, oh, this sucks. This hurts. This is painful. What happens? Victim Mentality, Chris must be attacking me right now because I feel this way. Folks, there’s not a person on the planet that sits in our chairs going through Next-Level Life that likes finding that part out, but guess what? Many times that’s exactly what we’re choosing. Now, if you want to learn more about that, go listen to episode 276 and it’s called what makes us powerless and how to stop victim mentality. We’ll link to it in the show notes and that is a very powerful episode to listen to. So now that your emotions are under control and you’re not attacking because you realize what you’ve experienced, you’ve become self aware.

You recognize that nobody can make you feel any way, that you’re responsible for your own responses and your own feelings and what you’re experiencing in the moment and that you have the option of setting healthy boundaries. I don’t care who the person is, right? You can always set healthy boundaries, but you cannot do it if you’re not self aware. Once you’ve got that under control, number two is care about them. Shift the focus to the other person, empathize with what they’re going through, what they’re experiencing. Again, this is not excusing somebody for being a jerk, but recognize what’s going on with you. Take responsibility and then ask yourself, what is this person doing? What are they experiencing? What are they going through? What are they possibly feeling themselves? What are they believing or receiving poorly from me, so maybe I’m the one who’s doing something.

Maybe I said something wrong or maybe I did something that suggested that they feel a bad way right? This must come from a genuine place in your heart. This is not shifting the spotlight to them, so you don’t have to take ownership of you. You already have taken ownership in this of your feelings, of what you’re experiencing. Now get outside of you. Focus on what they’re experiencing. If you do that, so let’s go back to my team member. If in that moment I say, hey, so here’s the question, and they give me something that does not answer the question. I say, okay, now does that answer the question and they feel conflict and they get self-aware. Then they get to ask the question of themselves, what did Chris just say? Did he attack? Is he attacking? Did he say anything that was offensive? Did he do anything offensive?

Here’s the great thing. If it is not that way, then very quickly you realize this person isn’t out to hurt me. As I talked to my team member, I said, okay, now what changed? What was the switch? And it’s always the same thing. It’s the same thing with our clients as well. She realized she trusted me. She realized she was safe, she felt safe. She realized I wasn’t the person who had attacked her in the past and that it was safe with me that my goal was not to make her event about me. My goal was to make her event all about her. A crazy thing may happen for you. Once you become self aware and then focus on the other person, you may recognize that they’re not trying to hurt you, that they haven’t sent anything bad, that they haven’t done anything wrong. Now, you also may recognize that they have many, many people.

Think of what I do for a living folks, whether it’s Next-Level Life whether it’s Stratplan, it could be friends and family. Many people take shots at me. I’m the person trying to help them that they asked to help them through situations and so many times as we get into stuff, people will feel like victims or they will feel something coming up from their past and you know, like I shared about the one client, stop yelling at me. This is not yelling, well you’re going to. I have no intention of yelling. I have no plan on ripping your head off. That’s not what we do here. While it feels like you’re going to well, okay, well let’s take a look at why you feel that way. If you get to that place of self awareness and start caring about the other person, you might go, oh, this person’s not trying to hurt me, but you may see that they are…and

what if they are? Then you have to learn how to set healthy boundaries in the moment. Why are you wearing that shirt? That thing is just butt ugly. I can’t believe you brought that to Next-Level Life. “Chris, I did not come here for your fashion advice. You can keep that information and in fact, let’s not have any more opinions from you on my fashion. That’s not what I’m paying you for. Thank you for your opinion, but it’s just totally not needed.” Boom, solid healthy boundary and it’s as easy as that. I know it seems like for a lot of you out there, it seems like that would be just crazy painful and difficult. It’s really not. If you’re talking to somebody who’s pretty healthy or even decently healthy, they’re going to see exactly what you just said. You’re right. I shouldn’t have said that.

If you’re talking to somebody who is not, then yeah, kind of going to suck, right? They’re probably going to blow up. That’s okay. Remove yourself from the situation. You don’t have to be there, but if you’re caring more about them in the process, you might also see that they’re hurting. Why do most people take shots at me? Well, hurt people, hurt people, and so I happened to be the guy who was helping people in very painful moments and hurt people, hurt people, so it’s not uncommon and God has given me some thick skin and has helped me to see that there’s no point in me taking offense to it. They’re not really trying to hurt me. They’re responding out of their own pain. What you may discover is if somebody is saying things that are hurtful, it could possibly be that their intention is not to hurt you.

They’re just struggling. They might be responding from pain. They might be experiencing something that they need more love and understanding than they need a battle for right now. It doesn’t mean that you don’t still set healthy boundaries. You can also do it this way. Hey, here’s what I’m hearing you saying, or here’s what I’m experiencing you as saying, is this what you mean? So man, what is wrong with that shirt that has just butt ugly? Hey Chris, here’s what I’m experiencing from you, that you’re offended by my clothing and you’re wanting me to absolutely know it and feel bad about it. Now, is that what you’re saying? Is that what you mean? Well, where does that put me? I’ve got to back up and go, oh crud, what am I doing? Because there is no response of, no, that’s not what I meant at all.

Of course, that’s what I meant. Of course, that’s what I was suggesting to you. So if you are being healthy yourself and you’re caring about somebody else, sometimes you don’t have to set that healthy boundary because if you’re strong enough, if you’re not, go ahead and just set a healthy boundary, but the stronger you get in this process, you can actually speak into the other person’s life. Help them to see what they are doing. After you’ve done that, we switched to number three, which is seek permission. Ask them if they want to discuss it. If they’re struggling with something, ask them if they want to discuss it. It may not be the right time or place, but go ahead and find out if they say they don’t want to discuss it, find a time that works or maybe you don’t discuss it at all. The key is if somebody is struggling with something in somebody attacks or or suggest that you feel badly or whatever.

Now keep in mind this is only when they are doing that, so if you’ve taken responsibility, you’ve cared more about them and you discover that it’s all you. We probably don’t need to move to number three, but if you’ve discovered that, yeah, maybe they’ve they have said something hurtful, then ask them if they want to talk through it, ask them what they are experiencing. What are they going through right now? It’s very possible they’re struggling with control issues. It could be that they’re struggling with how somebody treated them. It could be that they are feeling that they’re not good enough in the moment, perhaps a a boss ripped their head off, perhaps a spouse ripped their head off. Perhaps somebody has just said, way too many negative comments to them. If they would like to discuss it, be strong and be there for them.

If they don’t want to discuss it right then, don’t. Now don’t assume that you know what they’re going through because that’s when we jumped to Number four, you have to gain perspective. If you make assumptions that you know what they’re experiencing, what they’re going through, then you’re going to mess things up very quickly. Ask questions. What are they feeling? What are they struggling with? For example, I’m experiencing you as being defensive. Do you feel that you’re being defensive are you experiencing yourself as being defensive? Are you upset? Are you hurt? This is how I’m experiencing you. Is that what you are experiencing? The great thing about using the term experiencing is I’m not setting your reality that you are that, so if I experience you as being defensive and you’re not and, you’re able to go, nope, I’m not this, this and this or whatever, and I go, oh, okay, that’s my bad.

I experienced that incorrectly, or I experience you as being upset, you know, again, back to the client. Stop yelling at me. Okay? I’m not yelling at you well I’m experiencing you as yelling at me. Okay? Let me ask you, the voice that you’re hearing right now is this yelling? The great thing is, is once I asked him, he said No. Once he could see that I wasn’t yelling, his response was, I don’t really understand why I’m feeling this way, which was easy for me to tie it back to something else he experienced in his past. Right? So gain perspective. I’m experiencing you as yelling at me. Okay. Well I have no problem talking through that. Let’s just take a look at my voice right now. Do you agree that this is yelling? No, I don’t. Okay, so maybe let’s shift back to you.

What are you experiencing in the moment? Are you experiencing something that came from your past? Are you expecting that something’s going to happen that your dad used to do by ripping your head off? That’s exactly what I’m expecting. Okay, great. We’re getting somewhere. If you care more about the other person, you can help to drive to that place of discovery. You may not be able to help them to get through it, over it, whatever, but at least you can get to great perspective, which helps a person to work through the stuff that they’re experiencing. Ask why they feel the way that they do with genuine curiosity. It’s not about proving them wrong, it’s, it’s about listening to what they’re experiencing in the moment. Then we moved to number five, take personal responsibility for how you contribute to conflict. Now, before we’re talking about self awareness, obviously personal responsibility is all about self awareness, but you’ve got to take a look at how you contribute to conflict.

How do you enter conversations? How do you look at folks? I can tell you I had, oh gosh, I felt so horrible that I did this in my early days of preaching. This is back in the nineties. I was very self conscious. I had not flipped the switch yet between it being about me to it being about God’s kids and I was trying to make these great sermons and all this stuff that I was doing and I had a leader sitting on, I think it was like the second row that was looking at me and just had this face. This is probably 1997 and she just had this face that was like, what in the world are you saying now? This is right before I started learning a lot about personality styles. So she’s looking at me with this. I mean all I could do is, as I was talking, I kept looking over and just this massive disagreement with what I was saying, just this.

All I was getting from her face was, you’re a freaking moron. I just finally I stopped and I said, did I, did I say something incorrect? Because I didn’t know what to do. I mean, young kid, well, 27 at that point, so not really a young kid, but I looked at her and I said, did I say something wrong? And it took her about three seconds to come out of that face which started to tell me something she was concentrating and she looked at me and she looked around and she goes, are you, are you talking to me? And I went, Yep, that I say something wrong. And she goes, Nope, I’m just listening to you. And I embarrassed her in that moment because I was so embarrassed myself. I was so thinking, did I screw something up? And everybody in this room is thinking that I just said something really stupid.

Well, that propelled me to take personal responsibility that I can’t do that. I can’t act that way. And praise God, it was not long after that that God showed me, this isn’t about you bubba. This is about me. It better be about what they hear, not what you say. And huge flip of the switch, uh, which I have focused on heavily for the last 20 years. That also propelled me to start learning about people and personality styles and understanding them and that’s, you know, I became an expert teaching on personality styles and the face that she had was not one of disappointment or displeasure. It was one of high c concentration, high complaint concentration. Folks, you’ve got to take responsibility of how you contribute. If I wasn’t struggling with insecurity in that moment, if I wasn’t struggling with loss of worth, if I wasn’t struggling with feeling like I probably said something really stupid in front of a bunch of people, if I wasn’t struggling with that, I would not have responded that way.

I would have instead asked afterwards, Hey, I noticed by looking at your face that you may not have agreed with something I was saying, at least that’s what I was experiencing from the look you had. No, not at all. Okay, great. That is exactly what I needed to know and praise God. From there on that, I was able to learn people and understand how people respond and how they give information and how they receive information. So high c’s out there, understand if you have the, I call it the High C face when you’re concentrating heavily while somebody is talking to you, they’re probably feeling like you think that they’re just wrong. They may be wrong, but uh, try not to show it on your face. Personal responsibility. How am I contributing to conflict if somebody else is sitting in my audience and looking at me like I’m a total moron and I choose to receive a judgment, I choose to receive that they are sending a message to me through their face.

If I choose to receive all of that, that’s my bad. But I’ve also got to take a look at how I stepped in to a conversation. One of the things you will see me do a ton of times is as I’m having a conversation with somebody, I will correct myself. It is not uncommon for me to go. I’m sorry. Let me rephrase that. And the reason why I’m doing that is because I practiced this for 20 some years that I practice making sure that I understand what the person might receive from what I just said. So if I say something and I’m looking at this personality style and I’m going, well that’s a high I, you could have just offended them. Go ahead and rephrase it to make sure you didn’t offend them. That’s me taking personal responsibility. Yeah, but Chris, you’re not responsible for how they feel.

You’re absolutely correct, but I am responsible for how I contribute to conflict. So if I come in and choose that, the way I say something is the right way, that means I’m not leaning in their direction. That means I’m not thinking about them. It means that I don’t care about what they possibly received. So it is not uncommon for somebody to be in Next-Level Life. Our team meetings, our one on one meetings, Stratplan, no matter what, it’s from stage. It doesn’t matter what it is. It’s not uncommon to hear me say. Let me rephrase that. Let me say that another way. Let me take another stab at that because I’m realizing that I may have said something that contributed to conflict. When you practice this as part of your life, it’s amazing how much you catch yourself possibly being the one who causes the problem doesn’t mean that I’m not saying that.

All I do is sit there and think, oh my gosh, I hope I don’t hurt people’s feelings. That’s not what I’m saying at all. What I’m saying is I take responsibility for me. What did I do? What did I possibly do? So recap guys. These are the five things that you can do right now. Five things that I want you to think through. Number One, self awareness. Take control of your emotions. Number two, care more about the other person. Shift your focus. Number three, seek permission. If they want to discuss it now, then that’s an okay thing, but make sure that you do. Number four, gain perspective. Ask them about what they’re struggling with, what they’re experiencing, and listen. And number five, personal responsibility. Take ownership of how you contribute to conflict. If you want these five steps in a pdf, go to ChrisLoCurto.com/314, and get the free download. Well folks, as always, we hope this has helped you today. Take this information, change your leadership, change your business, change your life, and join us on the next episode.

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