This is the first article in a series of 3 articles about relationships written by Professor DeRose. The next article in the series will continue to look at the ways we deal with conflicts and the final article will deal with how to end relationships. Enjoy!
[Original text by Professor DeRose. Translated by Fabs]
Rarely do you find rational reasons for conflicts between people. They are almost always emotional in nature. Usually their reasons for starting are trivial. An off-handed remark, a certain tone of voice or a fleeting facial expression sets off something on an unconscious level that triggers our self-defence system and we respond hurtfully.
From there, each person shelters behind a fortress and stubbornly defends their point of view, intent on proving to the other that he, and only he, is right. The problem is, with both parties doing the same thing, no one ever gets anywhere.
The people who have the most conflict-free relationships are masters of one important skill: empathy. They are able to think with the other’s mind. Reality is a matter of perspective. Once you realise this simple fact you quickly notice how easy it is to defuse conflicts.
By showing empathy and understanding you are not backing down or admitting defeat. On the contrary, you are taking the first step in the art of winning over your ‘opponent’ – stopping them from seeing you as an aggressor. Once your partner becomes less defensive and emotional temperatures return to normal, you will more than likely get what you want… and best of all without conflict!
After all, the best generals were the ones who defeated their enemies without resorting to the high costs of war.
Compare the costs and benefits of a gruelling fight between people who love each other: hostility can last for hours or days, both parties can suffer emotional scars and grow resentful towards each other, sexual desire may be lost and if the argument never finds a resolution you might even break up for good.
Compare the kind of insecure defensiveness that fuels this arms race with the powerful, compassionate approach that would take charge of the situation, immediately see things from the other person’s point of view then expertly find the gesture, warmth of voice and sincerity that melts their partner’s anger bringing them doe-eyed into their arms.
Finally consider this: Who is the strongest, the one who wins the war or the one who manages to get what they want without having to fight anyone for it?