Son:- "What I do is my business – why can't you leave me alone?"
Mum:- "You shouldn't shout at your dad, he is only trying to help"
Son:- "Keep out of this – you're always butting in where you're not wanted"
Mum:- Starts crying
Dad:- "You've done it again! You're always upsetting your mother"
Son:- "Just fuck off and leave me alone"
If we examine each person's feelings they are all legitimate – the son feels nagged at, ganged up on, dad feels angry at the drugs in the house rule being broken and mum is felling distressed because she was yelled at. It's how they express their feelings and the behaviour that follows that is problematic.
If we can get away from the idea that we are right and the other person is wrong we can start to find better ways to resolve these issues.
- If how I behave invites a certain kind of response from the other, then I can choose to behave in a way that invites them to respond in the way I want.
- If how I respond to others is to accept their invitation to react in a certain way, then I can choose to decline their invitation and react in a different way
They respond this way and change
In conflict we tend to either give up or feel powerless to affect the ways someone behaves, or we try to dominate and control them. However, the reality is somewhere between these two – we do have influence.
Our influence has limits