Chris WrightChris Wright is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. He sees clients in the Washington, D.C. area and has telephone clients from all over the world. He also has over 35 years of experience as a trainer and workshop leader in human and organizational development across the U.S. and Canada. Chris was founder and director of the Human Relations Institute in Houston, Texas. He was also the Director of PAIRS International -- training psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists in couple’s skills programs. As an innovator in the field, he has developed a unique blend of tools that increase the effectiveness in relationships -- for couples and in the workplace. He has Masters Degrees from the University of Arizona and Antioch University in Los Angeles.
Host: What is the fourth principle for conscious conflict resolution?
Chris Wright:The fourth principle in conscious conflict resolution is been able to relate; is the key to harmony in you relationship; that is it. Been able to relate is the key to having harmony in your relationship. To the degree that you are relating to each other, to that degree you have harmony in your relationship. If somebody is arguing then someone is not relating. If there is disharmony, whenever; then it is because somebody is not relating. If in the arguments somebody gets up then leave, they got up and left because somebody was not relating. If now in your relationship you are not talking to me, you are not talking because someone is not relating. It could be either one; either one of us, if one of us would just relate to the other person; put themselves in the other person s shoes, the whole thing; the whole of disharmony would go away. If there is emotional distance in this relationship over time, it is simply because someone is not relating; he does not get it, she does not get it and that is why we are distant, that is why we have walls up. So, relating is the key, they say that communication is the key for resolving differences, but its not; I mean, communication is important, but the key is to degree you are able to step out of your frame and relate to the other person s. Because if you are really getting it, if you are really relating to whatever triggered them then who is there to fight with; there is no one to fight, there is no one to argue with.
So, my commitment in a relationship is that anytime I trigger you, anytime there is tension from you, anytime there is criticality from you, is to immediately expand myself into your world to step out of my frame of reference and put myself in your shoes; what it must be like for you with the pressures that are going on inside of you, what the needs that you have in your operating system. My whole goal is this, as you talk is to try to understand and experience what you must be experiencing, that is what creates a sense of harmony together. So, that I really get it, if I do not; if I come; if I listen to when you talk to me when you are upset or triggered, from my frame of reference, I am in trouble, that is a trap. I am going to get set down that chamber into my emptiness and it is going to make me angry, it is going to make me aggravating. Because when I look in my world, I do not see that what I did was necessarily wrong; in my world that was just fine.
So, I am going to get stuck in that and keep hearing everything that you say from that filter, which is only going to exacerbate the tensions. Because, if I then take a stand and defend my world, you are going to get even madder at me because you are going to now have to break through my denial to get me to get how important this is. So, it is important for me to always extend myself to expand myself to incorporate what it must be like to be in your shoes.
Let me break it down for you; so, when you come at me and you are triggered, my mere reaction is to put myself what must be going on and so may be I say all right that make sense or I can see why you would say that and I merely start articulating what it must be like for you. As I am doing that, as I am trying to discern what it must be for you that would make you this upset, two things are happening that are vital.
One is that this taking me out of my frame, I am not letting go of my frame, but by the exercise I am actually expanding my frame to incorporate what it must be like for you. That is good for me to do. My frame is a trap; if I stay at my narrow frame, you have seen that like in the television show Wife Swap, if you stay in your frame you are going to be in trouble. What I need to do is constantly keep expanding myself out of my frame to see it from fresh eyes; from a broader perspective and so it is important for me to do so.
So, by the end when I am finished validating what you must be going through, I am really getting it now; oh! No wonder, I can see why you would feel that way, I really start to respond. What I found over time using this process is that it actually starts to engender empathy in me; that I actually feel compassionate when I finally get the feeling of being in your shoes, it make sense to me what is you are going through and it opens my heart and that is really what you wanted to hear from me; what is you wanted to feel some sense of that I understand what it is like, you living with me that I get it.
And the second side, it is good for me to expand and get it. It provides a basis now for me to then offer solutions that take into account both of our needs because I really get your needs now. Secondly, by doing this when you are upset or triggered, by putting myself in your world and validating what you must be going through, it relaxes you. There is nothing to get upset about now, it diffuses your whole; all that pressure in you to be empathized with have somebody really validated, really get what it is like for you.
Now again, it does not mean I am agreeing with you; it does not mean that I think what you are needing or what is, you are wanting or even what you are upset about is right. Frankly, I think, it is coming from insecurities in you, but so am I; I mean, that sort of the human condition as we grow and we develop ourselves and so I understand that. And so, it does not mean I am agreeing by being able to relate to what you are going through, but it is important I do so, because that then becomes the platform for us now shifting your focus to; okay, what do we are going to do to solve this? How we are going to make this work for both of us, so both needs are attuned to and met in the process? So, relating is one of most powerful things I have ever learned, this process.
Most people, under the heat of battle when you are triggered and you approach me and you are critical of me, it is so easy to go, listen to it from my frame and respond it from my world and if I do I am going to get triggered. So, most people find that they actually need to learn tools; tools that immediately take them out of their world and expand them, so they can incorporate the other person s experience in the conversation. Those tools are, I think, are miraculous; they will change your life; your ability to always in every situation, be able to relate to everyone else s is experience without giving up your own, it is the platform for resolving for growing, for expanding for so we can get both of our needs met.