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Make The Conversation Safe


This little reminder can be helpful when you find yourself playing referee between two or more people.  When people who are in an existing relationship argue, they tend to forget what they have in common.  Most of the time, they want the same things.  One may just want to be considered, the other may just want to be respected.  Most of the time, there is a compromise or something missing in the communication.  If identified quickly, an argument can be avoided. 

If you see two people arguing, or if you are in an argument, take the opportunity to listen to what is being said.  Find the common ground and do your best to calm everyone involved down.  An opportunity presents itself in pretty much every argument to calm things down.  There is always some form of common ground.  If the people involved have a pre-existing relationship, it is even easier to find what they have in common and diffuse the situation. 

An Ole Too Familiar Example

Here is an ole too familiar example for many parents.  Alecia asked her teenage son Jason if he did his homework last night.  Jason responded, “No.  I’ll just do it at school.”  Alecia becomes immediately frustrated as she has this same argument with Jason on a regular basis.  Alecia says, “It is homework…you know.  Work to do at home.”  Jason says, “What’s the big deal?  I’ll get it done.”  Alecia is not satisfied with that answer and lays into Jason some more.  “Let’s get ready to rumble!!!” 

The common goal here is that they both want Jason to do well in school and be successful. They both want Jason to be independent and have the skills to survive on his own.  Jason thought his mom was just nagging him and being a pain in the butt.  He did not realize she was really looking out for him.  Alecia did not realize that Jason has a free first period and usually knocks out homework during that time.  A simple miscommunication, with a lack of a known common ground.  That common ground was Jason’s success and good habits.  Communicating this one little point, and trying to “Make the conversation safe” could have totally avoided the escalating argument.

Emotion Will Take Over

Typically, in an argument, emotion will take over, not allowing a person to say what is really bothering them. You will witness the person’s frustration, rather than the concern for the bigger issue.  Identifying the common ground in an argument, kinda takes the emotion out of the discussion a bit.  It helps each person to understand what the other person is thinking.  Some times people are saying the exact same thing, but arguing over how it is being said or carried out.  When you clearly state the common ground and common goal, it takes that one on one match and turns it into a tag team against the problem. The two people unite against a common enemy and work together towards victory. 

Listen To The Other Person

Making the conversation safe also works if you are the one in the argument.  Instead of fighting and defending your side of the argument, first listen to the other person.  Try to understand their concern or problem.  Find the common ground and make the conversation safe.  Some times the common ground can be hard to find, and your ego may want you to fight till the end, but you have to persist.  Look to calm the situation down by finding the common goal between you and the other person and focus on that.  Identifying and stating the common goal can really diffuse the situation.

The Takeaway

Next time you find yourself playing referee between two people, or you are in an argument of your own, remember to “Make the conversation safe.”  Bring a level head to the conversation.  The last thing you want to do is add more gas to an already burning fire.  Help solve the problem with common ground.  Don’t take a side, even if it’s your own, and help bring everyone involved together toward the common goal. 

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