Unlike the examples above, relationship conflict does not always have one, neat and tidy answer. Sometimes, attempting to solve a conflict might actually be one of the most destructive approaches to take as the first step of action. But if we are not searching for solutions to a conflict, what is our other option? The answer, is this: seek to understand another’s position.
In the Gottman Method, created by Dr. Julie Gottman and Dr. John Gottman, those in relationships are encouraged to seek understanding first rather than attempting to solve a conflict. Through greater understanding, compassion can surface and compromise may be easier to reach. Here are some of the questions that can help understand another’s position on a topic:
1. What are your beliefs/values that are relate to your position?
2. Is there a story or childhood history that relates to your position?
3. What’s your underlying dream about this issue?
4. What would it mean if your request was met?
By understanding another’s position, we attempt to loosen up the tension that comes from being gridlocked in conflict. If we can feel understood and seek to understand another, we may truly be able to move toward a compromise or solution.