Day 699: In it to Win it

Think back to every argument or heated exchange you've ever had. Most of the time in most arguments you feel absolutely that you are right and that the other person is wrong. Not only is the other person WRONG, but they are willfully ignoring what you are saying and are simply not cooperating with you or considering you at all. Correct? Hmmmm.

We've all been there. We are sharing something with another person, whether it is mundane or personal, and the something goes wrong. Lines of communication get tangled and you are both trying to make a point that the other just doesn't seem to be getting. The apparent fact that the other person is not HEARING you just makes you feel more righteous and inflames you more. What may have started as a level headed conversation has now become a battle of wills, where both of you are fighting for supremacy.

The standing of your name rests upon your victory - fail and you will be tarnished forever. Your need to overcome and overpower the other person with the might of your words consumes you. There is a fire in your chest and in your mind. You start resorting to less than honourable tactics to try and unsettle your opponent - whatever it takes. There is a haze before your eyes, you're seeing red. You may forget what the hell you're fighting about, now it's just about winning, whatever the cost.

A domination of their will. A subduing of their spirit.

This happens far too often. And quite often the topic of the argument is not the real reason for the conflict. No one teaches us how to communicate effectively, or that we need to make sure that the words we hold within us do not have any emotions or memories attached to them, giving them a sharp edge when used against another (or ourselves).

All too often we integrate words with emotions or memories attached to them - the word transforms into our personal interpretation according to what we have associated with the word (whether that is a traumatic event, a happy memory, a scene from a memory - whatever). Because so many people use so many words according to their personal interpretations and with all this excess baggage attached to them - we may be saying the same words to each other, but they don't mean the same things.

Another aspect is that we seem to have an ingrained belief that we know exactly what other people mean and that everything they do, they do the same way and for the same reasons we would. Really putting ourselves in someone else's position - completely - is something that must be learned. It is not enough to think about what we would do if we were in their position, we must consider what we would do if we WERE them, if we had lived their life. We also very often make assumptions without first getting all the information, so we assume that someone has wronged us somehow, but we don't investigate further to establish the entire context.

So, we've established that ineffective communication (like having emotionally/memory charged vocabulary leads to the same words meaning different things for different people), not considering other people completely and making assumptions are three major instigators of conflict. This translates not only to our personal lives and relationships but also to international and business relationships. It is high time that we make the effort to improve our communication skills - the cost of not doing so is too high.

So, the next time you're trying to make your point heard, check these 3 things before the situation turns sour:
  1. Are you actually understanding each other? Check that your word definitions are the same. 
  2. Have you fully considered the other person's position (including life experiences etc)? Take a moment to objectively assess the person.
  3. Have you made any assumptions? Make sure you have all the relevant information.