A Guide to Resolving Tough Conflicts

This webpage offers guidance in how to prepare for your next tough conflict.  True resolution requires more than just good communication skills –but also deep self-understanding.

Know Thyself:  The BRAVE Framework

Throughout the ages, philosophers and psychologists have advocated that we “know ourselves.”  But how?  Here’s a straightforward approach:

1.  Read Chapter 3 of Negotiating the Nonnegotiable (softback version).  Pay particular attention to the BRAVE Framework.

2.  Recall a conflict from your own life.

3.  Review the BRAVE framework.  Which of your pillars of identity might feel threatened in the conflict?

4.  Hypothesize which pillars of identity may be threatened in the other party — and why.

5.  As you interact with the other party, seek to respect their pillars of identity — and make sure yours get respected too.

Resist the Repetition Compulsion

1.  Recall a conflict from your own life.

2.  Read Chapter 6 of Negotiating the Nonnegotiable (softback version).

3.  Answer the following questions:

What is your “typical” cycle of discord that reemerged in your conflict?  For example:  Who started the argument?  Did you attack or defend, give in or withdraw?  What did the other person then do?  How did that make you feel?  What did you then do? How did they then feel?

What is one behavior you might do differently “next time” to help break the cycle of discord?  (e.g., appreciate rather than attack?  inquire rather than withdraw?)​

What is the ‘lure of the compulsion?’  See Negotiating the Nonnegotiable for a list of possibilities.  The more you understand the essential lure, the more power you will have to break free of longstanding patterns that may be counter to your rational interests.

Stop Vertigo Before it Consumes You

1.  Recall a conflict from your own life.

2.  Read Chapter 5 of Negotiating the Nonnegotiable with your conflict in mind.

3.  Answer the following questions:

Did you experience vertigo in your conflict—becoming emotionally consumed in the conflict?

How did you personally experience vertigo– in terms of what you were thinking, feeling, and doing?

​How might you prevent vertigo from again striking in this relationship?

Watch out for Taboos

1.  Recall a conflict from your own life.

2.  Read Chapter 7 of Negotiating the Nonnegotiable (softback version).  Pay particular attention to the ACT Framework.

3.  Consider the following questions:

What feels taboo to talk about in the conflict — it it taboo to feel certain feelings or to raise a specific issue?

What might you fear will happen if you raise the issue?

What advice do you have for yourself on how to deal with the taboo —  should you accept it, chisel it away, or tear it down?

Digging Deeper

1.  Read about the other Lures of the Tribal Mind (chapters 8-9 of Negotiating the Nonnegotiable, softback).  Complete the worksheet at the conclusion of each chapter.

2.  Read about the four steps to reconciling tough relations (chapters 10-14) and complete the worksheets.

3.  Review all that you have contemplated, and make a personal action plan.  Decide upon 1-2 behaviors you will try to change to improve your effectiveness in your conflict.