Unavoidable Confrontation and How to Manage it.
In my role as a corporate coach, handling confrontation is the number one challenge that clients bring to session. Senior executives often need to develop the skills necessary to assert their point of view and achieve their goal, whilst managing any potential conflict and ending the interaction on a positive note with all parties feeling listened to and valued.
Divorce and separation are no different. We have to have very difficult conversations where often both parties have disparate goals and strongly held opinions. Emotions are frequently running high and the odds can seem enormous.
So, how can we manage these interactions? Here are some ideas:
What do you want to achieve?
Prepare your thoughts and focus on your goal. If you don’t know what you want, you will be easily confused and distracted. At the same time, maintain some room for compromise.
Stick to the point
Set the agenda/subject matter for your conversation, agree it and try to keep to it. These discussions can be easily derailed when every grievance and gripe is brought into play.
We are all more likely to compromise if we feel we have been heard. Don’t spend the time when your ex is talking; preparing your response. Actively listen and then take a moment to respond.
Check your understanding
Paraphrase the other person's point of view to express your understanding or indicate that you understand even if you do not agree.
Make your point concisely and repeatedly. Try not to waffle as this gives lots of opportunity to rebuff your thoughts and it can muddy the waters.
Keep your emotions in check. Anger, tears, sarcasm and frustration have no part to play here. If you start to feel emotional and you need a break, request one or re-visit the conversation later.
Avoid trigger points
In any relationship, we are aware that certain actions or comments will push the other person’s buttons. If you can avoid these, your conversation has more chance of being successful.
Accept that it is not about winning. Focus on having an open discussion with a compromised outcome. A success is when you have been heard, listened to the other person and reached a compromise.
Accept that you won’t always avoid confrontation. Many of these tips rely on the assumption that the other person also wants to avoid confrontation, that they find it as distressing as you do and that they want a solution as much as you do. That is not always the case regrettably.
In our daily lives, most of us actively try to avoid confrontation. In divorce, that is not always possible or even very likely. Developing the skills to manage this inevitable conflict in an optimum fashion will be well worth your time and energy.