Apologize correctly to deal with conflict

Did you know there is a science and an art to learning how to properly say “I’m sorry”? Just saying the words “I’m sorry” usually doesn’t get it and often does not resolve the conflict while apologizing the right way just might.

If you are asking forgiveness, the following seven steps have been found necessary for an effective apology. If you are on the receiving end of an apology and are considering forgiving someone, you should require all elements listed below before you accept the apology as genuine.

Step 1- State a detailed account of the situation to make sure that both you and the other person are talking about the same thing. Sometimes conflicts continue partly because you and the other are upset over different aspects of the dispute or disagreement.

Step 2 – Acknowledge the hurt, pain, damage or suffering you caused the other person. Just admitting it can often go a long way toward healing the emotional damage done.

Step 3 – Take personal responsibility for whatever you did – or didn’t do – rather than trying to shift blame or make excuses for what happened.

Step 4- Express regret to the other person for the incident in a way that is apparent that you really mean it.

Step 5- Specifically ask for forgiveness. Saying the words “please forgive me” can go a long way toward the forgiveness process and add weight to the sincerity of your apology.

Step 6 – Make a heartfelt promise that you won’t do it again. Obviously, you must stick to your promise and honor your commitment, or all bets will be off! Prepare for the reality that it will take some time for the other person to re-build trust in you; don’t expect instant results.

Step 7-Offer some form of restitution, if at all possible. Restitution – making it right – can be financial, emotional or social. Just offering an apology without at least trying to find a way to “make it right” may come across as shallow and hollow. Talk in itself may or may not be seen as sincere; action usually communicates much more intent and proof of feelings.

Try these seven steps the next time you need to apologize – or accept an apology from someone else – and see if they don’t help reduce the conflict you have. More on using the eight tools of anger management and conflict resolution at http://www.angercoach.com. and http://www.angercoachonline.com

Humor Is Anger Management Technique

Humor is a positive emotion that helps counter-balance anger and other negative emotions in a conflict situation.

Think of a teeter-totter. On one end sit anger, resentment, irritation, and all the friends and relatives of these negative feelings. But, on the other end sit humor and other positive emotions. What will happen? The teeter-totter will shift depending on the relative weights on both ends.

It is not unusual to have negative feelings in almost any kind of relationship, but conflict and emotional distance can occur if the relationship lacks sufficient positive emotions to counter-balance the negative feelings.

For example, Tim and Tina were having a silly marital tiff about feeding the fish in their aquarium. Tim gave them fish food from the refrigerator; Tina thought the food was too cold and might harm them. They actually argued for about 15 minutes. Fortunately, however, they had built into their relationship an “automatic” stop wherein one or the other would say something humorous that would completely diffuse and de-activate the negative emotions that were building.

In this case, Tina said “I know the fish will get a stomach ache because I saw one swimming on its side rubbing it’s belly with the other fin”

This visual completely changed the atmosphere for both of them as they replaced negative feelings toward each other with laughter.

Humor is a powerful strategy to lower your stress levels, dissolve anger and instantly give you new ways to view conflict situations. This gives you, in turn, new ways to respond to a situation. Learning to respond instead of just react is an anger tool that we teach in our live anger classes as well as our online programs.

Often mood is elevated and anger is diffused just in the process of striving to find humor in difficult and frustrating situations. Laughing at ourselves and the situation help reveal that small things are not the earth-shaking events they sometimes seem to be. Looking at the problem or conflict from a different perspective can make it seem less formidable and thus more solvable.

The AngerCoach Show – Episode 6 – How to deal with a passive aggressive

This months episode handles the topic of how to deal with a passive aggressive person. To help us understand this behavior, we interview Dr. Roselyn Laudati who helps us recognize passive aggression in ourselves and others as well as provides excellent tips on how to handle this behavior.

Please note: This anger program and these anger tips are not meant to substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or advice. If you have intense, serious or chronic anger problems, or you have to deal with someone else who does, you should immediately consult a mental health or medical professional for help.

Anger Management often involves conflict resolution

Persons often get into angry outbursts and escalations with each other because they don’t know how to resolve conflicts. Often, one person sees himself/herself as the victim which justifies retribution, retaliation, or “getting even” with the other, who also sees himself/herself as the victim.

No where was this more clearly demonstrated than on a recent episode of NBC”s dateline which chronicled a retired, affluent, church-going, community leader engineer who utimately shot and killed a neighbor and his wife, and then felt quite justified in doing so.

The conflict started several years  earlier over needing to repair a common very small bridge access to both their properties.  

They had a disagreement over payment of the work which gradually escalated over several years ending in the tragic double murder. It was a classic “Hatfield and McCoy” conflict which has been going on for generations in, I believe, West Virginia.

Why couldn’t two, educated, mature men work out their differences without violence?Part of the reason is that they both lacked skills to do so and both saw the other guy as the problem from which they needed to defend themselves. Netiher man had anything close to a criminal or violent history, yet both became violent and aggressive.

There are many ways to resolve conflicts. In our local anger management classes as well as our online anger classes, we teach the anger tool of “empathy” as a starting point for conflict resolution. As we define it, empathy is not only the ability to feel what others must be feeling, but also being able to see things from their point of view. Sounds simple, but it is far from easy, because we tend to think that others see things as we do, or if they don’t, they should!

We teach that our behavior is much more determined by how we individually see things, than how they “are.” Having the ability to transpose ourselves into the eyes, ears and hearts of the other guy takes a lot of practice and patience. Yet, it is crucial to conflict resolution to first able to see where the other guy is coming from, even if you don’t agree with it.

In later blogs we will discuss other conflict resolution tools. For now, practice empathy and see if it makes a difference in your life. But, if you don’t have time to do it right now, I understand!


Anger often result of poor conflict resolution skills

How do you resolve conflicts with another person? Do you become aggressive? Do you present an attitude of “my way or the highway”? Are you intent on only getting your own way or are you looking for common ground and compromise?  

The ability to resolve conflict is a skill that will reduce anger in your relationships, your workplace and in your family. Unfortunately, few people even realize that resolving conflicts is a SKILL that can be learned, just like learning to play tennis or learning to play the piano. Even fewer people possess the conflict-resolution skill set, even if they realize that there is such a skill set and that it can and must be learned as well as practiced.

But, learning how to do it and do it well is important in many areas of life. For instance, research shows that married persons who are skillful at negotiating conflicts with each other seem to have better marriages than other people, even if they have issues. Couples can have many issues and still get along if they are able to successfully deal with conflicts around those issues.

The place to start is with your attitude and willingness to solve problems in a win-win way that satisfies both parties to some extent. In other words, you have to want to solve the conflict before conflict resolution will work. Having a flexible, problem-solving orientation instead of a blaming, fault-finding, or rigid approach will go a long way toward solving your conflicts.

In future blog entries, we will discuss more specific conflict resolution skills and tools which you will be ablke to apply in many areas of your life. If you have your own ideas of what has worked for you, please leave a comment below or email me at drtony@angercoach.comŠ

Express appreciation to resolve conflicts

Anger often results from failure to resolve conflicts with other people. This includes many diverse situations such as couples conflict, parent-child conflict, workplace conflict or company-client conflict. Expressing appreciation is an important ingredient in fixing people problems, according to Harvard researchers Fisher and Shapiro who wrote a really helpful little book called “Beyond Reason……Using emotions as you negotiate.”

People who resolve conflicts successfully know that it takes a lot more than simple reasoning or rational arguments to do it. It also involves address concerns that the other person has which activates positive emotions in them. One of those concerns is being “appreciated.” When arguments start, it is common for one or both people to not feel appreciated by the other. When this happens, people tend to feel worse and are not as open to listening to the other side of things and are not as likely to be cooperative.

To appreciate another person, your first task, according to Fisher and Shapiro, is to understand how things look and feel from their point of view. This involves one of our core tools of anger control – empathy.  It is relatively easy to see things from our point of view, but very challenging for most of us to see it from their point of view. To show appreciation, you must not only be able to see things from their point of view, but you must be able to also find merit and communicate that found merit to the other person.

Many people fear that appreciating someone’s point of view means that you are agreeing with them. Not so. Whether or not you agree with someone, you can find merit in their reasoning and let them know. Communicating to them that you understand how they feel or where they are coming from, or how they reached their conclusions (even if you don’t agree with them)  can go a long way toward expressing appreciation and resolving conflicts you might have with them.
More on conflict resolution and anger management at www.angercoach.com

Stimulate positive emotions to resolve conflicts

Mental health professionals have discovered an important principal that should be used when attempting to resolve conflicts or settle disputes with others. Simply put, conflicts can resolved more successfully when reason and emotion are taken into account. To try to solve an emotional issue with logic alone is often very ineffective and frustrating.  We are emotional beings by nature and to ignore the emotional underpinnings of a disagreement is a mistake often made by individuals, couples, and employers.

According to experts Daniel Shapiro and Roger Fisher at the Harvard International Negociation Initiative, to resolve conflict people should focus on core concerns rather than raw emotions themelves. Doing this shifts emotions into a more positive, productive direction.

Probably the mst important of the core concern is that of appreciation.   Appreciation encompasses the desire to be understood and valued. Expressing appreciation involves finding the merit in another person’s point of view. Research by the marital researcher Dr. John Gottman showed that it was possible to predict which newlyweds would divorce within six years by observing their interaction and expression of appreciation of the other during the first three minutes of a 15-minute argument.

Other core conerns that show you are dealing with the other person’s emotions include affiliation, autonomy, status and role. Affiliation involves somehow both getting on the same side of the issue – becoming allies instead of adversaries.  Autonomy is important ebcause conflicts often develop when people feel that they weren’t adequately involved in a decision that directly affected them. Status makes one person feel superior over the other one and works against resolving a conflict because the less superior person often feels diminished or resentful. Try to equalize the status by asking the other person for advice or ask them to expres their viewpoint.Convey in words and body language that everyone involved in solving a conflict has something valuable to offer, regardless of title or rank. Role means that we empower people as listeners, facilitators, or problem solvers, depending on the conflict and the situation.
Taking emotional concerns and issues into account will go a long way toward helping you resolve conflicts with other human beings. For more information on anger management and conflict resolution, visit our webiste at www.angercoach.com.