Relationships are difficult. The potential for conflict is always present. But relationships are made all the more difficult whenever one party asks the other a question and the only answer that person wants to hear is, “Yes!” In this case, the person asking the question isn’t really asking a question, are they?
No, they’re actually making a demand, disguised as a question.
Whenever you’re asking a question of someone (not a content question like “What do you know about XYZ” but a request question like, “Can I borrow your car tomorrow?”), the other party always has four options at their disposal.
1. “Yes” – the affirmative answer you’re seeking.
2. “No” – the negative answer you don’t want to hear.
3. “Maybe” – the optional answer that could turn into either option one or two above.
4. “Later” – the postponement answer that again, could result in either option one or two above.
The key is that when you ask a question, you need to be willing to accept any one of the four options.
If you remember our conversation about goals and desires, you should remember that any action or decision that another individual has some say or control over is at best a desire, not a goal. Why? Because you and I can’t control other people. We can only control ourselves. (more…)
Invariably, the two of you are going to run into conflict virtually every day for the rest of your lives (between roommates, bosses, fellow employees, teachers, family members, neighbors, etc.). But don’t worry, it’s not personal–it’s just part of the human condition. Everyone (including the two of you) is hardwired for self-interest–which means that, at a minimum, you will experience some level of conflict everyday because at some point of everyday your self-interest and someone else’s self-interest will be (or at least appear to be) at odds.
Now, most people think they can avoid the reality of self-interest by simply wishing it away (shouldn’t we all just get along), but they’re wrong. We’re hardwired for it. We can’t just wish it away. It is what it is. So, the better question that the two of you need to ask yourselves is, “How can I work with other people’s inherent self-interest?” That’s a good question.
And the answer to that question can be found in a wonderful “old” bookentitled, “Getting to Yes,” by Ury and Fischer, which is a lay version of the Harvard Negotiation Process which was used in creating the Camp David Accord between Israel and Egypt.
The basic premise of Ury and Fischer’s book (that changed how I think about and deal with conflict) is that the reason most conflict doesn’t get resolved is because people continually fight about their positions. (more…)