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Express appreciation to resolve conflicts

Posted Dec 09 2008 9:13pm

Anger often results from failure to resolve conflicts with other people. This includes many diverse situations such as couples conflict, parent-child conflict, workplace conflict or company-client conflict. Expressing appreciation is an important ingredient in fixing people problems, according to Harvard researchers Fisher and Shapiro who wrote a really helpful little book called “Beyond Reason……Using emotions as you negotiate.”

People who resolve conflicts successfully know that it takes a lot more than simple reasoning or rational arguments to do it. It also involves address concerns that the other person has which activates positive emotions in them. One of those concerns is being “appreciated.” When arguments start, it is common for one or both people to not feel appreciated by the other. When this happens, people tend to feel worse and are not as open to listening to the other side of things and are not as likely to be cooperative.

To appreciate another person, your first task, according to Fisher and Shapiro, is to understand how things look and feel from their point of view. This involves one of our core tools of anger control - empathy.  It is relatively easy to see things from our point of view, but very challenging for most of us to see it from their point of view. To show appreciation, you must not only be able to see things from their point of view, but you must be able to also find merit and communicate that found merit to the other person.

Many people fear that appreciating someone’s point of view means that you are agreeing with them. Not so. Whether or not you agree with someone, you can find merit in their reasoning and let them know. Communicating to them that you understand how they feel or where they are coming from, or how they reached their conclusions (even if you don’t agree with them)  can go a long way toward expressing appreciation and resolving conflicts you might have with them.
More on conflict resolution and anger management at www.angercoach.com

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