“It takes two to tango.”
If there’s an argument or conflict, both people have a part in building it.
There are places and times when it is okay to allow an argument to happen or escalate. (Note that I say allow–you 100% have control of yourself and your responses).
There are also places and times when it is not appropriate to argue, and you must approach a potential conflict differently, in order to be respectful. Here are a few examples:
- With a teacher at school
- With your boss at work
- With a customer at work
- With an upper belt in the dojo
So, how can you approach such conflicts in a way that minimizes the chance of someone getting upset?
Well, answer me this: when does someone get the most defensive? When they feel like they’ve been accused, blamed, judged, or questioned.
How do you approach a conflict without doing any of that? Answer: The I Statement. Before you use an I Statement, you have to let go of your ego. You also have to take responsibility for and own your feelings.
What does an I statement look like? Something like this: I feel ________ when (describe the situation) because (explain why you feel that way).
I often tell students that I Statements are a great way to express confusion with an upper belt. For example: “I thought that there was actually a side kick there. Is it really a roundhouse kick?” or “I heard you say “second form basic,” but we just did our second one. Am I hearing you correctly?”
See how much more polite that sounds? Does it sound angry or accusatory? Nope, just asking a question to get an answer.
When you make it about yourself, the other person is more likely to stay calm, try to understand, and try to help. I Statements are an extremely powerful tool for resolving conflicts.
Tips for Making I Statements:
- Let go of your need to blame the other person
- Take a deep breath
- Always begin with I
- Try to avoid anything that sounds accusing or blaming
- Don’t twist the I Statement to be accusatory
- Stick to facts, avoid judgments
- Be honest with yourself
- Focus on your feelings & thoughts
- Try to understand your own interpretation of things, for example, “I feel sad when you forget your forms, because I expected you to be excited about them and remember them.”
The next time you sense an argument incoming, try out an I Statement and see what happens.