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 about skills for resolving the issue?
Chris Wright: It is true, it s important to have skills on how to resolve the issues, how to create solutions and so once we both understand each other, both, we have the sense of what the pressures are, the needs are that explain what it s like for you and I understand for myself. Now, we want to focus on solutions, we want to resolve this in a way that takes into account both needs. Both needs matter equally, so we want to find a way to make this work for both of us. If in interaction there is a sense that you do not get it, that you do not understand mine, then we are not ready to go to find solutions yet, we are not ready to resolve this, because if we do, all the solutions that you are going to throw out have to do with taking care of your needs, they are not going to reflect mine at all.
Some situations, the person may actually want to just legislate their needs; this is what we are going to do. So there s a sense of controlling me or intimidating me or forcing the more forceful personality, just establishes what the resolution is. But there is no longer a sense of team anymore; there is no longer a sense of connection. So you may get the result you want, but you are losing something that is very precious. So we really want to, really focus on solutions, once we have a sense, that we are both in goodwill, have what the real issues are, what the real pressures are and take those into account.
Here s what happens, whenever there is a conflict, it s because somebody has a need and the other person s bar is not set enough, let s put it this way, the bar is not high enough to meet that need. Where the bar is for that person is fine, they are comfortable there, but it s not high enough for my need, with the pressures that I have. So there needs to be a recognition here that what fills that need for me way up here, that this is a symbolic gesture, that there is something I am missing inside myself and I am wanting outside of myself to fill it and I want you to adjust your bar to fill it. But the truth is it s symbolic, the need is inside myself and so it turns out that becoming aware of these dynamics, I recognize that this concept is balanced. That I want to come back into balance and I want you to raise your bar, so that we are meeting sort of halfway in a way.
This is not about compromising; there is not a sense that I have to compromise, it s a sense that what is healthy here. Wherever my bar is, why aren t I raising my bar higher, to meet my partner s need, I care about her and I care about her needs. From her side, she wants to recognize where she is over the top and come into balance. So it becomes much easier for us to find creative solutions when we come together, it s like brain storming session.
Our focus is on trying to find positive solutions, we call it solution solving rather than problem solving. We do not get together to talk about problems and who did what and what was wrong or whatever, we get together to focus on, from now going forward, what would be a positive solution that could make this work and then brain storming we throw out solutions and we do not tear the other person s down, their solution down, instead we respond, well what about this, maybe we could do it this way. It s a good well effort to try to meet both of our needs. So, in this phenomenon of trying to create solutions again, there is maybe about ten different elements, that we want to be conscious of, facets of that, we create a checklist that you check through to make sure that the process is smooth and honoring and that the needs are being attended to. Then we shift to a new phenomenon which is, reinforcing the solutions. A lot of times we create solutions that we both agree on, but the truth is what I am asking you to do and adjust in your bar, really it is all sorts of pressures in you, that you are going to confront, that you are going to make it hard to do in your goodwill right now, you are agreeing to do it, but when situations come up, it could be difficult thing for you to do.
So maybe we need to now, talk about what are some of the obstacles that could come up, what are some of the resistances, some of the pressures that could show up and what are we going to do if they do, what is our fallback situation, how are we going to motivate you or support you so that when situations come up, you are able to keep your bar steady to where you want it to be established. So reinforcing the solution can become just as important as establishing the solution, so we do not have to have this conversation again. Again, there is about five or ten elements that we want to take into account, to make sure we have covered all the bases, so that what we are agreeing to is something we can both counter on, something that we can be assured of, so we do not have to keep having this conversation. When we establish these kinds of frameworks, people and their goodwill, do change and do find the support necessary to establish those changes. So that we can adjust our bars and meet each other s needs.