Turn Conflict into Connection
My heart is soaring at the potential of feedback to turn conflict into connection!
Recently, I was hurt, offended, and angry about an interaction with a client and friend. I didn’t like how they’d responded during our business coaching call. They were angry, and it felt like they cared little for me or our friendship in the midst of their irritation. I sent several emails after the call and, although the wife responded, the person who had gotten angry with me did not. It was easy to see that his wife’s responses were more the husband’s responses coming through her.
Each morning as I woke up, the pain of the situation was right there, tugging at my heart. I journaled through different exercises to get unhooked from the wound. I made some progress through each exercise, but it seemed as though I couldn’t dislodge what felt like the bur on the end of a fishing hook that was causing my internal suffering. That is until my coach asked me the simple question, “What are you committed to?” I thought about my vision as a coach which is to stand with my clients in honesty, vulnerability, and authenticity for their greatness. It immediately helped me dislodge the bur as I let go of the painful conversation being about me and my offense and moved to it being about my client. I wondered how his reaction to me might be showing up in other places in his life and hurting significant relationships that mattered a lot to him and the future he longed for.
I decided to invite this couple into another conversation. Although I was shaking from the inside out as we got on the phone because I wasn’t sure if they would receive the feedback I was about to share, our profound conversation began. There was much emotion on both sides as we worked through some of the surface elements. I stood in my vision and focused on loving them. No matter how frustrated I experienced them to be with me, I was able to remain calm and confident in my vision. As we came to the heart of the conversation, I asked my client if I could offer him feedback about the impact his reaction on our previous phone call had had on me. I shared that it felt like he had punched me in the nose and then left me to deal with the pain. He was shocked. It hadn’t even occurred to him that I was aware he was upset. While he knew he was angry, he thought he had hidden it from me and only expressed it to his wife after they had gotten off the call. WOW! As humans, we are so unaware of our impact. People we interact with understand a lot more of what we are communicating even though we may not be speaking it.
As we got curious about how far apart his intentions were from his impact, it became evident that this behavior of lashing out and then acting like everything is fine is a behavior he had learned well throughout his childhood as he watched his parents interact in their relationships. He began to realize he gets angry and then expects his wife to communicate his feelings for him to the people he is upset with. This puts her between him and the person he is angry with and leaves the wounded party feeling unimportant and insignificant to him. In this pattern of behavior, the person he gets mad at pulls away a little more with each experience. They feel insecure in not knowing when the next “blow up” might occur. The poison of unresolved anger fills the relationship and an invisible wall of distance grows between them.
However, there is another way that can turn conflict into connection. In his anger, my client simply offered me a survival tactic he learned out of necessity due to his painful experiences growing up. As I stand in relationship with him, I don’t have to offer self-protection in return. Instead, I can offer love through powerful feedback about the impact he'd had on me. Because I risked myself for the sake of the relationship, he is experiencing freedom. I offered life to him and our relationships by allowing him to see something he was completely unaware of. I helped him be aware of his impact, which was far different than his intention.
Powerful feedback allows me to turn conflict into growth in my relationships. An offense that threatens to hurt our relationship can actually grow our connection. When I offered honest feedback out of love for him and what I desire for our relationship, it didn’t only deepen our connection; it's bringing a new level of freedom to every relationship he has.
After our conversation, he got curious about where else this is showing up in his life and he saw how he at times was doing the same thing to his staff. He courageously went to one of his team members and asked how his behaviors had been impacting her. It allowed him to sit in the pain of his impact and ask forgiveness which produced a tearful connection between the two of them and possibilities of a new foundation in their relationships moving forward.
It is amazing how when we live life for others rather than ourselves we can impact each other's lives and future in such a powerful way! What are you committed to in your relationships? Is there someone you could ask to offer you powerful feedback about the impact you have had on them? Or, is there someone who has hurt you that you need to offer love through honest feedback?
Here is helpful guide I have created for you that lays out the 6 Steps to turn your Conflict into Connection.
Download Six Steps To Conflict Resolution!
The power of living authentically (sharing what is real for us out of love for another) in relationship is the key to deep and powerful connection and living life fully alive.
I look forward to hearing your stories of how conflict has turned into connection!