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Core Insight Skills
5 Steps to help you face conflict with confidence
(and why it's worth it)

Communicate

Once we’ve done the hard work of getting curious and discovered what is going on for the other person, what's next? We need to communicate.

Getting curious in the face of conflict by using the skills detailed above – noticing, verifying, and asking – is not easy. It requires us to resist the urge to get pulled into a conflict, which takes not only presence of mind, but a confidence that understanding is the first step towards a productive solution.

When we choose to communicate –rather than react defensively – it opens dialogue that allows us to learn from others in a way that helps us forge a path forward and share information that is important to us. But communicating is hard, especially when you are the one making the effort to get curious. 

When we get curious about someone, it tends to trigger their curiosity about themselves and what's really bothering them. Yet, it doesn't always loop back around, leading them to be curious about you in return. Because of this, it is important to practice both getting curious about others and communicating what is important to you. 

Picking up from the story in the previous section: When my husband chose to wonder about me rather than react to and condemn the childish conflict behavior that I had used to show how unhappy I was that we were late meeting my mom, he created a space for understanding instead of going to battle – which would have been both natural and an easier route in the short run.    

But I have to admit, I was not curious about my husband in that moment. Regardless, he did need to communicate that he wasn’t okay with how I had acted. He waited until he had understood and deescalated me to do the hard work of telling me how my behavior had impacted him (see below).

To communicate well, it’s important to be clear and direct and also open to hearing and staying curious about a person’s response.

An effective way to do this is to use an I-statement that centers on expressing not only what you need from the other person, which is how traditional I-statements are crafted, but on what’s at stake for you – what your threat is in the situation. Your goal in communicating this is to put your perspective, concerns, and deliberations out on the table to work through. 

A formula for I-Statements

 I + Feeling + Impact / Dire Future

For example

"I’m mad that we’re going to be late because I’m worried that my mom is going to be hurt and disappointed."

The way my husband did this was to say, “I have to say that  I was pretty upset with you barging in on my phone call and slamming things around like that. I was on an important call for work, and it was embarrassing that you came at me in that way loud enough for my colleagues to hear.”

Having already been acknowledged on what led me to that behavior, I was able to take ownership for behaving badly and apologize. I appreciate that he communicated the impact of the interaction on him. It has stuck with me. Not only do I now take stock when the anxiety of being late rises in me, but I check my conflict behavior. My intention that day was never to harm or embarrass my husband, but to communicate that I was mad he was making us late. 
 

Communicating this way allows you to:

  • Own your feelings and interpretations without blame (which can escalate conflict)

  • Put your perspective out on the table for consideration 

  • Be open to changing your mind if your interpretations could use a reality check or a dose of more information. 

Dive into our next Core Skill

As the fifth and final Core Insight Skill, Listening, is all about paying attention to the other person and doing your best to understand them on their terms.

About the Core Insight Skills

 

Conflict is part of life. It’s part of sharing space with others. And it grips us when our perceptions and experiences not only don’t match, but feel threatening in some way. 

While conflict is difficult and causes us to charge into battle or disappear and hide, when we face it with confidence, it can also help us expand. It can be a clue that there are important things to address, and that by addressing them, new perspectives and possibilities emerge that are essential for growth. 

Facing conflict with confidence is not easy. When we feel angry, disappointed, frustrated, or wronged, we’re vulnerable. We want to protect ourselves and what we care about. But in order to effectively do that - to protect and strengthen what matters to us in the most sustainable way possible, to harness the good that can come from conflict and turn what might otherwise be destructive into something constructive - it is important to cultivate skills for engaging rather than escalating conflict.

The Insight approach – the theory behind Insight Policing and Engaging Conflict through Curiosity – invites us to work through five steps to more effectively communicate through conflict to find new, more sustainable paths forward.  

 

These steps require us to: Notice, Verify, Ask, Communicate, and Listen.

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