Everybody encounters differences of opinion and conflicts in their lives. During these situations it can be useful to recognise when people are fighting fair or fighting dirty.
Let’s explore these different ways of trying to solve difficulties.
1) You can recognise fair fighters.
Fair fighters take responsibility. Whilst they may sometimes feel upset, they take ownership for their feelings and focus on how to shape a better future.
Such people build on common ground. During a conflict they look for the similarities. They focus on the shared goals that people want to achieve, rather then the differences. They explore how it is possible to get some early wins that will build trust.
Fair fighters say things like: “Let’s look to the future and see how we can find a solution.”
They refuse to play the blame game. Even when angry, they are careful with their communication. They ask themselves: “What are the real results I want to achieve? Do I simply want to express my feelings or do I want to find a solution?”
Such people stand up for their rights, however, and are certainly are not ‘victims’. They also give clear messages, rather than conflicting or confused messages. Fair fighters always give positive suggestions and try, as far as possible, to get ‘win-wins’.
Looking back on your life, can you think of somebody who demonstrated these qualities? What do you believe they did right to be a fair fighter? Try completing the following sentences.
2) You can recognise dirty fighters.
Dirty fighters blame others for their situation. They refuse to take responsibility and seem to say: “I am right and the world is wrong.”
Such people play the blame game and often refer to the past. They say: “Look at what you did then and how it made me feel.” Believing their own feelings are paramount, they express these without consideration for other people.
Dirty fighters give conflicting or confusing messages. They may also put others in ‘double-binds’. These are situations where, whatever the other person does, they cannot win.
One such example is when the dirty fighter says to somebody:
“You are the only person who understands me. Nobody else will listen. So I am going to tell you about all my problems. If it wasn’t for you listening, I would probably commit suicide.”
Dirty fighters keep putting people in double-binds. They also focus on differences – rather than common ground – and insist that other people should change. They make others feel small and their model for solving conflicts is to aim for a ‘win-lose’.
Looking back on your life, can you think of somebody who was a dirty fighter? How did they demonstrate these behaviours? Try completing the following sentences.
3) You can focus on fair fighting in the future.
Let’s return to your own life and work. Can you think of a situation where you may want to – maybe even need to – be a fair fighter?
How can you be calm, clear and use your creativity to get positive results? Take a moment to think. Looking at the situation, ask yourself:
* What are the real results I want to achieve?
* How can I do my best to achieve these results?
* How can I do my best to, as far as possible, get a ‘win-win’?
There are many skills for helping to shape a successful future. One of these is learning how to solve differences in, as far as possible, a positive way. Try completing the following sentences.