Updated: Jun 23, 2020
First, let’s be honest. Good communication during an argument is never as easy and people make it seem. All that “I see that you are upset, tell me what I can do to help” mumbo jumbo can be difficult to remember when a point is the only thing you’re trying to make🙅🏾♂️. So, I get it and guess what? There is no universal remedy or simple solution to handle the complexities of conflict and the difficulties it can take to address it. However, there are a few, three to be more accurate, realistic techniques that can help keep you grounded in an argument.
Officially, they’re called Differentiation, Fractionation, and Face Saving, but I like to refer to them as You 👆🏾, Me 👇🏿 and Us 👫. By being aware of You (Differentiation), Me (Fractionation), and Us (Face Saving), you can enhance your ability to reduce frustration, reach viable solutions, strengthen relationships, and actually have your point understood. So, let’s do this.
The first trick is easy to remember. It’s all about YOU, well the other you. It’s about the other person. Differentiation (YOU) occurs in the early phase of conflict. It is the first thing that you should use. It helps each person define the nature of the conflict or argument and clarify their positions in regard to each other. It is very important to conflict resolution because it establishes the nature and limits of the conflict. Differentiation (YOU) requires that we explain and elaborate on our own position, frequently focusing on the differences of our stances versus the similarities. Basically, you should focus on the differences in the other person’s perspective. That is usually where you can find the source of the conflict and anger. Being aware of these differences is useful for conflict resolution because it focuses the conflict, gives credibility to both of your perspectives and depersonalizes the conflict. So remember, it ain’t you or me. It just is.🤷🏾♀️
Differentiation (YOU) can be a bit tricky. In an argument, we’re often in F(orget) yoU mode. We forget that no two people on the planet share the same two perspectives. Therefore, we should remember to focus on YOU or the other person’s perspective. The value of focusing on them is that you can more clearly understand the conflict. It’s a way to separate the people from the problem and not make the problem the people.
Fractionation is communication math. And I know, I know, I know. Math is not your thing. However, listen Linda. All you do is divide. Fractionation is where you break down the argument into as many pieces as you can handle. It’s all about the Me or what you personally can understand. Fractionation (ME) goes hand in hand with Differentiation (YOU) which makes sense because you can’t argument with me unless I include you. Makes sense? Basically, you intentionally downsize the conflict into smaller more manageable discussions. And how will this work you ask? 🤔
Off top, focusing on Me reduces the conflict by breaking it down to a smaller, less complex conflict. Think about this. You eat cake one bite, usually in the form of a slice, at a time. Why? Because it’s easier than shoving a whole sheet cake in your mouth. Second, it highlights all the moving parts in the conflict. You can easily clarify stances, verify opinions and validate all the facts. Third, downsizing a conflict helps to reduce the emotional intensity of the dispute. It gets you out your feelings. Smaller conflicts carry less emotional attachments. Finally, Fractionation (ME) facilitates a better working relationship between YOU and ME in the conflict. In agreeing to address a reduced version of a conflict, me and you confirm our willingness to work with each other to solve this or future problems.
Now I’m going to be honest. I use this last one more often than the other two. The third trick is all about US (face saving). Face Saving (US) is your best friend. It is an attempt to establish and maintain your self-image in response to a threat. Usually, that is the threat of being wrong, misunderstood or embarrassed. Face-saving (US) messages help you establish how you want to be seen by others. Basically, it helps keep that egg off your face.🤦🏿♀️
In conflict, which is often threatening and unsettling, it’s natural for you to become concerned about how others view you in regard to the positions you’ve taken. This concern for yourself can be counterproductive to conflict resolution because it shifts the focus of the conflict away from substantive issues and onto personal issues. You are more worried about what they think versus what you know. Instead of confronting the central concerns of the conflict, Face-Saving (US) concerns force both you and me to deal with our self-images as they are related to the conflict.
Don’t worry though because I got you. By using Face-Saving (US) messages, such as "That’s a good point, I see it a little different though," “What you’re saying is completely valid, I just want to add to it or expand on it a little bit,” you acknowledge the other person’s point of view without making the other person feel stupid, crazy and even alone. The threat of conflict is lessened if y’all try to support each other's self-image rather than to damage it to win an argument. It is important to be aware of how people like to be seen by others, how conflict can threaten those desires, and how our communication can minimize those threats.
Focusing on US (Face-Saving) messages, both you and the other person can preserve each of your self-images and feel good about the points you’re trying to make. When this happens, regardless of who is “right” or “wrong,” you both walk away from conflict with a healthier relationship or at the very least, a new-found respect for another person’s perspectives.👍🏽
Remember, conflict is healthy and no two people on this planet share the same perspective. Keep in mind that during an argument, there are three truths, yours, mine and ours. Strive to find a common ground with each other even if you're in the sky and their underwater.
Now, if you found this helpful, like this post and most importantly, leave a comment! I want to know how you felt about this. Will you try these simple conflict resolution tricks? Did it help you understand how you can help your friends? Did you learn something new? What would you like to see next in the next post? Either way, don't forget to subscribe for updates on the latest posts, opportunities and scholarships!