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“Conflict cannot survive without your participation.” – Wayne Dyer

I recently read an article encouraging readers to be bolder and brasher. To be more focused on ourselves and less worried about others. It implored us to be less polite and to be courageous enough to talk over others. And it challenged us to unabashedly and unapologetically speak, act, do and live in the manner WE want.

While this message definitely makes for passionate debate and “sharing” online, what I’m convinced we need is not a blanketed statement about being MORE selfish and brash. But rather, especially at this historic point where there seem to be more tensions than ever before between races, countries and political parties, what I am calling for is a blanketed message of humility and patience. Let me explain.

I saw firsthand the consequences of the former – and the mighty need for the latter – while walking into a Coldplay concert with my wife, Beth, last Thursday.

Nearing the entrance out of the summer heat and into the soon-to-be rocking arena, we waddled in a series of long lines.

To our left, we saw two individuals bump into each other, seemingly accidentally and innocently.  One looked at the other, scowled and barked loudly, “Watch where you are going!”

With a look of utter disbelief the other responded even louder, “Watch where I am going? You watch where you are going!”

It was on.

The small incident quickly elevated into shouting, then name-calling, then finger pointing, then pushing. It was eventually broken up but could have been avoided entirely, as most conflicts can, with three simple steps.

Pause.  In the rush to respond, we frequently react first, think later. The better approach is to pause and show patience. Don’t be driven by the rush to judge or fix or respond or prove or win. Instead, take a breath. Reflect for a moment. Pause thoughtfully. Then considerately respond. In that silence, you may even find the courage and humility to utter the beautiful word, “Sorry.”

Love.  Several years ago I began implementing a simple practice that transformed my relationships. It’s an expression I say to myself before speaking. It’s made me a better husband, father, son, friend, and leader. In every interaction, I remind myself of the words and the truth: “I love you. And there is nothing you can do about.” It has avoided unnecessary arguments in my marriage, softened my response to mistakes others make, lead to incredible opportunities professionally, and diminished feelings of animosity while waiting in lines to go through TSA … or to enter a concert hall.

Space.  Frequently in the midst of elevating conflict, though, it’s hard to stay focused on pausing.  When someone disrespects us, it’s difficult to remind ourselves we love them…and that there is nothing they can do about it! And so the final solution is to simply walk away. It’s amazing how the things that set us off, given just a little time AND a little space, are much less significant than we thought in the heat of the moment.

My friends, we don’t need to be more infatuated with ourselves, take more selfies, speak louder, or push back harder.

No, what we actually need is to listen, not with a desire to respond, but with a heart to understand.

What we should aspire to is to meet anger and resentment with forgiveness and love.

What we ought to strive for is not to yell louder, but to walk away taller.

And in a global community as fractured, negative, and fear-based as ours, what we must remind others is that real courage whispers, true boldness apologizes, and love still wins. [Tweet this] | [Share on Facebook]

As Coldplay might sing, “Nobody said it was easy!”

But it is needed, it is longed for, it is rare, it is right, it is the one way forward.

And it is time.

Today is your day. Live Inspired.

8 replies on “3 Simple Steps to Crush Conflict”

Thanks John, these are all great tips! The world can use more pause …my favorite mantra is I mentally stop and think “don’t take the bait”. This has helped me avoid conflict or engage in antagonistic conversations and disputes with people who want to argue or always be right.

Love This John!! Humility is the opposite of ‘what we’re told’. I heard long ago to view that person as NOT’ ill willed’ which has helped me with my own reactions to situations but this is a great reminder for Monday morning:)

Love this Teresa….You’re right…I think we frequently come into a conversation ready for a fight. Wiser to view that person (stranger or family!) as being ‘Not Ill Willed!” Thanks — and stay on fire – J

John-

“My rule is simple, when conflict occurs- if I am standing up, I sit down. If I am seated, I lie down or look away. Sip of water also helps. Essentially it gives me the pause, which drives impulse reaction away”. Easier said that done- as we are all humans.

Vahaaj, Appreciate the feedback…advice…and totally agree: easier said than done. But still worth the effort of striving anyway! Have a terrific night — sip that water — and stay on fire! J

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Live Inspired Together is a community of friends changing the world together, starting with their own. In a world that often focuses on negativity, John O’Leary - Live Inspired shares the other side of the story through his member-supported channels (essays, Live Inspired Podcast, video, webcasts, social platforms) to connect our community and share inspiration and actions to live it. Support now.