The Importance of Asking “Why”: A Conflict Resolution Strategy

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Does it ever seem that you just can’t get along with someone? Maybe it’s a spouse, a parent, a child, or even a boss at work. No matter who it is we’re talking about, there is one word that could very well make a big difference in your relationship: “Why?”

Why does this situation bother me?

When you start to feel frustrated with something someone has said or done, the first thing you need to understand is why it bothers you. Does it make you feel taken advantage of or unimportant? Did it physically or mentally cause pain? Did it remind you of something completely unrelated that brought up negative emotions? Why are so you bothered by what happened or didn’t happen?

Sometimes I find myself mad at one person for saying something that I wouldn’t at all be upset if someone else had said. Why is that? Do I not trust the offender as much as another person? Do I believe they don’t have my best interests at heart?

Coming to terms with why you’re upset is a great first step!

Why did the person do or say this?

After you understand your reasons for being upset, it’s time to look into why the person who upset you committed the hurtful act. Were they honestly just joking around? Did they possibly misunderstand something you said? Have they had an exceptionally bad day and are just really on edge? Could they be upset at something you’ve done?

Knowing the motive behind hurtful words or actions can be a game-changer in terms of conflict resolution. Sometimes we get so caught up in what has been said that we forget to try to understand why.

More often than not, this isn’t a question to be asked inwardly. Rather, it should be spoken out loud in love and in kindness. One could say something as simple as, “I’m sorry, I think I might be confused. Why did you respond that way?”

Listening to the response with an open mind, with a true desire to understand the other person is 100% essential to this step.

Why do I want a resolution?

This one may seem like a no-brainer but sometimes our reason for wanting resolution is just not worth engaging in “battle” so to speak. For example, if you’re having a fight with your spouse about which way the toilet paper goes, the fact is, you want it resolved in your favor so that you get it your way. Why do you want it your way? Because you like it that way.

Is it really worth getting your way at the risk of hurting someone over something so insignificant?

At other times, the reason may be much more profound. Maybe you want an agreement on the way you discipline your children so that you can show solidarity and consistency in your home. That is a great why and is definitely worth taking the time to discuss and come to a conclusion on.

Why “why” is so important

I believe that understanding ourselves, and understanding the reasoning behind the actions of others is extremely important because it allows us to focus on the actual resolution, rather than just on what has been said or done. Focusing on what we want versus what the other person wants can sometimes create a “me against them” mindset which is simply not a healthy way to live your life.

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