It just might be the reason why you’re still fighting.
I was headed to work one day, via tricycle. Two women were already seated in back, so I was the last passenger. I was settling in when I realised the driver was arguing with one of the women.
She was large, and the driver’s grouse with her was precisely that. He was demanding that she get down or he wouldn’t move. She, for her part, abused him (and his mother, I think), and insisted on her right to sit where she pleased. He said the only way she was going with him was if she paid double the fare. She said he was mad. They went back and forth for a couple minutes more and then the fat lady got off in a huff, still swearing at him (and his mother).
It would have inconvenienced him to carry her, but it wouldn’t have been impossible. Indeed, before she got off, the other lady and I fitted in quite nicely in the space she left (which really was about enough for one average person, but we were both slim). He could have carried her, but he didn’t.
So I watched her go, watched her climb into another tricycle, still cursing him under her breath. He, too, was still defending his stance. And I thought about the unspoken issues at stake: his tricycle versus her weight, his primary source of income versus her self-esteem.
It matters how you define your interpersonal conflicts. You can’t easily resolve a conflict when you insist on defining the situation in terms of the other person’s problem and not in terms of your own insecurities.
What interpersonal conflicts could you redefine today?
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