Rules for Fighting Fair

Pat Lencioni's article on Diversity - "The Missing Ingredient" sparked a whole lot of comment from my network after I distributed it. Lots of people loved this idea of challenging each other productively, but lamented the lack of support or resources.

It made me think of an amazing resource put out by the Conflict Resolution Network a number of years ago that set out a bunch of rules to help individuals and groups challenge each other productively.

I could never find it (If you have it, please let me know!) and I had a couple who were clients who needed this set of rules, so I made up my own - I hope you find this useful to get your work, your group or even your family challenging each other productively!

Rules for Fighting Fair:

  • Attack the Problem, not the person. (this is the only one of the original I could remember!)
  • Remain Calm. Try not to overreact to difficult situations. By remaining calm it will be more likely that others will consider your viewpoint.
  • Express Feelings in Words, not actions. Telling someone directly and honestly how you feel can be a very powerful form of communication. If you start to feel so angry or upset that you feel you may lose control, take a "time out" and do something to help yourself feel steadier - take a walk, do some deep breathing, pet the cat, play with the dog, do the dishes - whatever works for you.
  • Be Specific about what is Bothering you. Vague complaints are hard to work on.
  • Deal with only One Issue at a time. Don't introduce other topics until each is fully discussed. This avoids the "kitchen sink" effect where people throw in all their complaints while not allowing anything to be resolved.
  • No "Hitting below the belt." Attacking areas of personal sensitivity creates an atmosphere of distrust, anger, and vulnerability.
  • Avoid Accusations. Accusations will cause others to defend themselves. Instead, talk about how someone's actions made you feel.
  • Don't Generalize. Avoid words like "never" or "always." Such generalizations are usually inaccurate and will heighten tensions.
  • Avoid "make believe." Exaggerating or inventing a complaint - or your feelings about it - will prevent the real issues from surfacing. Stick with the facts and your honest feelings.
  • Don't Stockpile. Storing up lots of grievances and hurt feelings over time is counterproductive. It's almost impossible to deal with numerous old problems for which interpretations may differ. Try to deal with problems as they arise.
  • Avoid Clamming up. When one person becomes silent and stops responding to the other, frustration and anger can result. Positive results can only be attained with two-way communication.
  • Establish Common Ground Rules. You may even want to ask your partner-in-conflict to read and discuss these ground rules with you..

Email Mike...

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