Conflict Resolution Series: Accusations and Negative Talk
One of the first things to ask yourself about conflict is do you want to resolve it? If so, are you willing to do your part to make that happen? Assuming that’s a “Heck yes!” there are some easy ways to help ensure you will resolve conflicts with grace and ease.
At the top of the list is stop making accusations and using negative talk. Similar to global statements, which put people on the defensive immediately, accusations and negative talk feed conflict and the only way to end conflict is to stop feeding it.
Some of the typical fuel that feeds conflict is:
These generally work hand-in-hand to alienate people in conflict. Making global or generalized statements about someone feels judgmental and shuts people down.
Accusations can also feel like a judgement and may not be accurate - leaving someone to defend something they never did. Negative talk, including jibes, cussing, and name-calling, can incite anger or passive aggression. Non-verbal communication can be misread or be as powerful as spoken words.
Let’s break down the negative aspects of accusations and negative talk:
Accusations are not always based on truth.
They are generally fears or hearsay that is likely unfounded. Accusations are usually made to create a power play over the person in conflict making them feel “in trouble” or “caught” and therefore in need of coming clean or to be forgiven. This creates an imbalance of power in conflict resolution and won’t lead to an equitable end.
Note: If someone has done something shady and there is proof, don’t accuse them. Present the facts and let the issue stand on merit. If you fear someone has done something shady, be blunt and share the fear - don’t cast blame where there is no proof.
Negative talk is a form of immaturity.
Being negative doesn’t take much brain power. Being negative and offering nothing towards a solution won’t resolve conflict. In order to attack a problem, both parties must be in problem-solving mode. You can feel negative emotions such as fear and anxiety but spewing foul language or making snide comments won’t make those feelings go away. Be open and mature about your feelings with the goal to resolve them not validate them.
You may have every right to be angry in a conflict. You may fear the worst or have proof of something very serious. Don’t fall into the trap of accusations and negative talk. Take the high road and be mature. Address the issues head on and look for resolution.
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