So many qualities make humans great. The "greatness" list is quite long, but there are a couple that set humans apart from the rest of our planet-mates. Perspective is one of them.
The idea that each of us sees the world in our own unique way is awe inspiring. Perspective is an opportunity to try on another's shoes, have great conversations, to expand our own ideas and circumstances; to revel in curiosity - to question and find answers and, finally, to learn from others.
It is great, isn’t it? But what happens when we cannot allow ourselves to view someone's world as our own?
Conflict drives human beings, although many might say that conflict is a "problem." It’s a problem in our businesses, at our job, or perhaps it’s even a problem in our personal lives. In soft skills training, conflict tops our grand list of “human issues.”
If that’s the case, if we believe conflict, in and of itself, is a human problem (perhaps the largest human problem), then what’s the solution? I believe, conflict, along with a great deal of other humans problems, could be resolved if we all made a choice to begin focusing on clear and intentional communication
Before you think to yourself, “Wait, that’s all!?” Understand that you are seriously underestimating one of the most powerful tools we have as humans and that’s...
The Spoken Word
Yes, the words that come out of your mouth. The fact that we humans have developed hundreds, if not thousands of languages to communicate is amazing. Gesturing and articulated grunts and clicks were not enough to satisfy. We needed a way to describe and convey our world, our ideas and emotions to each other, and so we developed the spoken word.
As the great Don Miguel Ruiz wrote so beautifully in his book, The Four Agreements:
The word is pure magic - the most powerful gift we have as humans - and we use it against ourselves. We plan revenge. We create chaos with the word. We use the word to create hate between different races, between different people, between families, between nations.
We use the word to create unproductive conversations that lead to unproductive conflict that leads to the land of nowhere.
If you want to better understand conflict, and ultimately, to cultivate better human relationships then begin with understanding the words that come out of your own mouth.
Conflict isn't inherently bad. It's the pathway to growth and progress. How we handle conflict has always been the larger problem. You must take the time to choose your words carefully, to use your words to make interactions more productive. Utilize perspective to view a bigger picture, whether a conversation with a loved one or negotiating a business deal, or designing world peace, don’t be lazy in your language. Your words matter.
Cheers to you and to using your words for good, even in conflict.
Jason Torres is a Trainer and Conversation Catalyst with Practical Dramatics, based in Charleston, SC. The company uses theatre strategies to help humans grow more profitable conversations with other humans.