When two people argue, they usually create a chain of escalation. The first person thinks that he is right and so he put a blame on the second person, again the second person thinks that she is right and then she puts a blame on the first person. This argument may continue up to a point where it becomes a serious issue which may arise to fights and anyone could get hurt because of that.
Different countries have different ways of dealing with conflicts. In some countries, people try to avoid conflicts as much as they can while in other countries, people seek conflicts by creating them. Usually, the kind of conflicts that are created intentionally are not easy to resolve. In other countries, people may be emotional and you obviously cannot argue with people who are emotional since you may fear to hurt them.
When solving conflicts, for example a conflict between two people, let’s say a couple, a third person can be invited to reunite a couple by providing a common solution for the two sides. Again, this varies with countries and in most cases, a third person will be invited if it is a big misunderstanding. Another way of solving this kind of conflict can be done by simply a talk between the two partners without including a third person.
One of the reasons that cause a chain of escalation is a non-stop argument between two persons who keep on using YOU-messages on one another. Let’s observe an argument between a teacher and his school director. The two argue because a teacher usually uses an additional break time to teach students:
Director : You should allow students to use their break time to relax.
Teacher : You should let me do my job.
Director : You must follow a timetable.
Teacher : You should consider omitting a break time. It is pointless.
The continuation use of YOU-messages will most probably not resulting to a solution and as you can notice in the above argument, no one is trying to suggest as what can be done to benefit students. Now, you may be wondering about what can be done in this situation?
A conflict usually has certain foundations. These foundations can be values, beliefs, needs, fears, feeling and habits. A starting point to consider when dealing with conflicts is to find out what are these foundations. This will enable to bring equivalency and it is when the two parties that are arguing have reached to an understanding. When you argue with someone, you have to listen what other person is saying and avoid responding with YOU-messages. You both have to stop escalating and take poses by reflecting on what other person is saying and this is the moment when you are trying to figure out the foundations behind a conflict. But then, if you do not use YOU-messages, what can replace it? And it is when you put in use the I-messages. Examples of these messages are:
I need …,
I feel …,
I think …,
I believe …,
I am afraid that …,
To me it feels important …,
I am used to …,
I was raised with the thought that . . .
So now let’s formulate foundations using I-messages to the previous argument of a teacher and a school director ;
Director : I believe that students should have their break time to fully participate in their next classes.
Teacher : I am afraid that the time for my class is not enough.
Director : I think we can set another time for you to teach the remaining part of your session.
Teacher : To me it feels important to give students more exercises.
The conversation can continue until both parties reach a common understanding. The use of I-messages provides an environment with many solutions and it is usually give a space for creative thinking.
It is easy to practice, right? Now, it is up to you to use the I-messages to create solutions when having conflicts.