R – Recognize the signs of conflict. Let’s start by defining conflict. A conflict is a situation that can
be internal or external involving one or more persons. Sometimes it’s clear and you know the signs.
Other times, its super subtle and you have to be attuned to slight changes in a person’s mood,
attitude or behavior to discover that something is awry. There are also those members of your
family who will tell you exactly what the problem is – Harry said time and time again that he had a
problem with the media frenzy around his family. He referenced his mom’s death stemming from
her attempt to escape the paparazzi. He mentioned that his wife, another woman that he loves, is
falling prey to the same media commoditization. Step 1 is to acknowledge that there is an actual
issue to be resolved.
O – Open the lines of communication. For many people, the hardest thing to do when you are
having an issue with someone in your family is to start a conversation with that person. How do
you this? Timing is key. I think universal bad times to have a conversation is when someone is
watching the Masked Singer or playing Candy Crush. Choose the time wisely. Also, give some
thought to the mode of communication. Should this be a text conversation, email, phone, video
chat or in person. I think that as a general guide, the nature of the conflict should dictate the mode
of communication. If you are going to ask someone not to leave the dirty clothes in the middle of
the floor and suggest the hamper as an option, then a text is probably fine. If you are going to tell
your parents and grandparents that you are going to move to a different country and step down as
Royals, then you probably want to do that in person. Step 2 is to figure out the best way to
communicate and start a dialogue.
Y – Yes, and… As an improv student at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, I learned the “Yes, and”
technique. Essentially, this approach fosters a sense of cooperation because each improviser is
encouraged to listen and be receptive to the ideas of others regardless of whether you agree or
disagree with the premise. How this translates to conflict resolution is easy. Saying “Yes, but…”
halts a conversation because once you say “but” you negate everything that preceded that word.
“Yes, and…” builds communication bridges that you can use to reach an understanding. By
substituting one word, choosing “and” instead of “but” you can open the door to engage in
collaborative problem-solving. The Queen engaged in a regal “Yes, and”. She accepted the reality
that Harry and Megan presented for wanting to move to Canada and step down as senior members
of the royal family, and then she helped them to further develop that plan. Step 3 is to accept a
person’s reality (not challenge it and try to convince them see things your way) and collaborate.
A – Apologies (give and get) and gratitude. Why are apologies so elusive? In our society, people
believe that when someone apologizes, they are admitting that they did something that made
someone else feel a negative emotion that was either intended or unintended. It is often the
unintended impact that makes it harder to give an apology. This battle between intent vs. impact
often debilitates families and apologies are often what stands between family members moving
forward. The power of an apology is endless. Harry, in his public statement, did not apologize to his
supporters (he probably apologized to his family behind closed doors) for changing the status quo,
but he used a technique that good conflict resolvers often employ. Gratitude. Harry ended his
public statement by thanking everyone for their continued support. Step 4 is to give and/or accept
apologies, in addition to showing gratitude.
L – Lead by example. Become a legend in your family. People will say – Remember how Bill
resolved that 20 year fight with Amy? Model excellent conflict resolution skills and show people
how to forgive (and forget, if possible) and move on. Effective and durable change requires time,
patience and flexibility. There will likely be challenges when you implement a well-thought out
conflict management plan, particularly if the change of course is significant. Harry and Megan are
making change within the royal family possible. Step 5 is to think beyond the issue at hand and
think about the macro impact on your family unit.
(Via NBC CT Live)