This week’s conflict resolution tip is about the importance of validating and aligning when in conflict.
Validation and alignment are a great formula for peacebuilding in many contexts. First, it is important to understand that validating is essentially a form of effective listening. A formula for validation might look something like this:
Validate = Concerns and/or Feelings + Goals
When you find yourself in a conflict with someone else, a great first step to resolution is to listen to what they have to say. When listening, try to recognize two things: their concerns/feelings and their goals. Once you have listened and think you have a solid understanding of their goals, repeat back what you are hearing.
For example, imagine an employee comes up to you and says, “I really don’t like the way you’re looking over my work. I don’t like to be micromanaged.” Using the formula above, you might respond by saying, “It sounds like you’re concerned with being managed too closely [concerns/feelings] and you would like some autonomy [goals]. Does that sound right?” At times you can even skip the concerns/feelings aspect and just address the other’s goals. In response to the situation above, this might look like: “Ok, so it sounds like you want some autonomy.”
This almost sounds too rudimentary, but it truly helps people feel heard. This technique also helps you better understand what the other person is trying to say and gives them a chance to explain themselves clearly.
The second part of this process is getting in alignment with the other person. Ask yourself if you agree with any part of their concerns? Do any of the things they say that concern them, concern you as well? Most likely, something concerning will resonate with you in these situations.
For example, after validation, alignment in the situation above would look like this: “I am also concerned that you feel micromanaged and that you’re not given enough autonomy. That really concerns me too.” Once this has been done, then you can move on to finding a solution to the problem.
If you validate by reflecting what they are saying and then align with them by showing you have similar concerns, the person speaking will feel listened to and respected. When you find yourself in these types of interpersonal conflicts, the first step to resolving them is almost always to show the other person that you’re on their team. When you do this, you can begin to bring peace into your life.