I’ve never been inside one of these rooms, but legend has it that it gets very intense. Even though I’ve never been in one, I can imagine the creative tension that fills the room as film geniuses, like Steven Spielberg and Michael Kahn (creators of “Saving Private Ryan” and “Schindler’s List”), collaborate to make decisions on what footage to keep and what gets cut. The film industry refers to this as the “cutting room floor”. In this room, everyone has a different perspective based on their role and as one would expect, they all feel that their perspective (i.e. their opinion) is important — and sometimes, the most important! No wonder some masterpieces take years to reach the audience (money matters aside).
If this process sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because you experienced something similar recently. It’s called human conflict, but unlike filmmaking, you don’t have a producer(s) to oversee the process to ensure that it doesn’t get out of hand. If you are unfamiliar with the role of a film producer, they are usually responsible for managing the time and budget of a film production.
In the early parts of our lives, we may have parents or teachers who fulfill a similar role and when we begin working, we have managers, but what about when there’s no one around? Do we just allow conflicts to keep going uncontrollably until someone gets hurt? In most cases, everyone gets hurt! Yes, even those that don’t like to admit it! Sometimes that emotion doesn’t hit us until later. How do I know? I’ve been there many times before.
The more important question to think about, should someone else be responsible for our decisions and behaviour? Human conflict is a part of life. Everyone has a set of experiences, values, and opinions that make conflict impossible to avoid. The great news however, is that when conflict is approached properly, it can help produce amazing growth and extraordinary results (in our work assignments and family matters).
Let me elaborate on what I meant by “approached properly”. There are specific communication tools that can help, but if you really want to achieve consistency, the secret lies in your understanding of human psychology. In one of my earlier blogs titled “Are you experiencing the 3Us? Uninspired, Unmotivated, Unfulfilled”, I introduced the concept of human-needs psychology I learned through the Robbins-Madanes Strategic Intervention Training. There are specifically six human needs that can help explain the motivation behind our decisions, they are:
1) Certainty (the need for stability, safety, and comfort);
2) Uncertainty/Variety (the need for stimulus and change);
3) Significance (the need to feel special and worthy of attention);
4) Love/Connection (the need for connection with others and to love and be loved);
5) Growth (the need to develop and expand); and
6) Contribution (the need to give beyond yourself).
Depending on your stage in life, one or more of these needs act as the primary force behind your decision-making. The next time when you are in a conflict, you can begin by asking yourself: Which of the 6 human needs am I trying to meet right now? For example, anger usually serves to meet your need to feel “significant” and “certain”. The reaction that you get from being angry creates certainty that you were heard and the reaction also helps you to feel significant. In these cases, the follow-up question can be what thoughts am I having that is making me feel insignificant and uncertain? If you know exactly what is making you feel angry, you can take responsibility for the real reason why you are blaming your friend or partner. Taking responsibility for your own thoughts and behaviour plays a major part in conflict resolution. But more importantly, it helps with personal growth and developing strong relationships. I am not suggesting that you take full responsibility for these situations; my advice is to focus on what you are responsible for and what you can do to mend things.
There is no easy solution, but when you replace anger with kindness and empathy and focus on giving love (i.e. on what you can do) rather than receiving it, it is something you can feel immediately whether someone returns it or not (Tony Robbins).
I’d like to leave you with this question: What is more important to you, achieving personal victory or team victory?