Monday, August 15, 2016

The use of "normalizing conversations" to de-escelate conflict in relationships


There are many things that can introduce conflict or awkwardness into relationships: disagreements; words spoken; actions or even second hand conversations that come back to us. It can cause us to back away from a relationship, suspect that others don't have our best interests in mind and create an invisible wall between two individuals. It happens in families, among friends and in the workplace - anywhere we have key relationships.

This is where normalizing conversations come in. Rather than live with our perceptions or assumptions about where the other individual is coming from, or the awkwardness that has been introduced into the relationship, normalizing conversations can clarify and remove relational walls that have been created. It is a courageous decision we make to seek peace, clarity and understanding by candidly talking to another about the events that have transpired.

Unaddressed issues between individuals create walls and distance while discussing those issues can remove those walls and bring parties closer together.

A normalizing conversation is very simple. It is taking the step to initiate a conversation in order to understand one another and remove the invisible wall that has been created by words, actions or assumptions. Choosing to initiate a conversation with another to clarify issues and create understanding  is a courageous and peacemaking practice. And too rare.

A normalizing conversation is not a confrontation but a conversation. It may or may not result in agreement but it can result in understanding. Because you have invited the other individual to be candid with you as you are with them, it removes future awkwardness in the relationship even if you did not come to agreement. It is simply a conversation to "normalize" what has become problematic.

The major barrier to such conversations is our own fear. In my experience, our fear is usually unfounded and we find the other party relieved to be able to lower the walls and understand each other. Even if the conversation is hard, it opens up the ability to communicate and creates greater understanding and that by definition almost always lowers the relational walls. It is about calming the relational waters.

TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness in both the for profit and non profit sectors. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com

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