Conflict. Ugh I dread it. I’ll shy away from anything that feels remotely confrontational. Maybe it is partly to do with the fact I was never given any tools to handle and be with conflict.
Regardless of if you love a good argument or are on the other end of the spectrum like me, we can all use a helping hand with creating more generative spaces for conflict.
Follow along. I’m going to give you the easiest, most effective tool I’ve come across for conflict. It has 4 simple steps and you don’t need anything other than a willingness to come back into connection with your partner (by the way, this can be easily used for all types of relationships, not just romantic ones).
Allow me to introduce you to the Feedback Wheel, which was adapted by the Relational Life Institute and is based on Janet Hurley’s work.
A note before you attempt using this tool: remember to make sure you’re centered and calm, that the purpose for this conversation with your partner is to reestablish connection and make sure the timing is right for you both (see this blog post for more on timing: https://tinyurl.com/pfkthskk).
Give the data to your partner. This means describing in 1-2 sentences what happened by giving specific observable behaviours and actions that you were challenged by.
You were 45 minutes late this evening, there was not a call or text to let me know that you were running late. The kids and I were left waiting to start eating dinner.
Tell your partner the story you made up about what happened. This is giving your interpretation of what happened and what it meant to you, not what your partner intended, thought or believed.
The story I made up about you being late is that your time is more valuable than mine. That spending time with me and the kids isn’t important to you and that you don’t care about us.
Tell your partner what you felt. Name the actual feeling – pain, fear, shame, guilt . See if you can get to your emotion about the event, not the theory about who, how or why your partner is a certain way. Use ‘I’ statements and steer clear of ‘you’ statements.
I felt angry and foolish for waiting so long. I felt sad for the kids and the missed opportunity to connect with you over dinner.
Let your partner know what would help you feel better. If there isn’t a specific action that your partner can take then seek reassurance that this type of event won’t happen again.
What would help me feel better is if you apologised to the kids and me. I’d also like you to call or text if you’ll be more than 10 minutes late in future.
Once you’ve gone through the steps, let go. Coming to the Feedback Wheel with a desired outcome will limit it’s ability to bring you back into harmony with one another.
If you’re on the receiving end of the Feedback Wheel it is important to acknowledge what your partner has shared with you. Mirror back what you heard and then lead with what you can or are willing to do to help them feel better about what happened.
I’d love to know how you get on using the Feedback Wheel and if you got stuck anywhere.