What I learned as a photojournalist about conflict resolution

When I was in my 20’s, I went to graduate school to become a photojournalist.

I like to understand what people are thinking and why they make certain choices.

Not only did this work allow me to be curious, but I loved the pursuit of clarity, honesty, and objectivity.

I saw those characteristics in my work when I explored and understood a variety of perspectives.

And I do the same thing when I want to solve a conflict.

I try to understand the different views of the people who are involved.

If I only push what I want, or I don’t speak up for what I want at all, the solution doesn’t stick.

Because if you don’t get your needs met, you’re less likely to follow through on your part of the agreement.

Like journalists, you just have to do a little research in order to understand other perspectives. 

Get curious and ask questions about someone’s experiences, emotions, values, and needs in order to understand what’s important to them and why.

When you gather different perspectives, you’ll make a better judgment on what feels most true to you about a topic.

Then, you can make a more informed decision about what to do next.

If you ask someone for their perspective on an issue, you don’t have to do anything with that information right away. Just reflect on it.

You can say, “I’m interested in hearing your perspective about this problem. And I’d also love to share mine with you.”

The fear that you have to agree, or that you’ll be forced to make a fast decision, could be holding you back.

If you don’t agree, you can simply say, “I appreciate hearing your perspective. My experiences have given me a different perspective. Can I share them with you?”

Or you can say, “I can see why you feel that way. I feel a bit differently. In my experience,…”

You don’t have to have a quick response or solution. You’re just gathering information—“Doing your research,” as we used to say.

Part of the creativity of problem solving is entering into the unknown. 

Start the conversation with the best intentions and remind yourself that you don’t have to know what the outcome will be in order to have a respectful conversation.

You’re there for research. You want to understand more about their perspective.

You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to understand every detail. You don’t even have to know what the other person is talking about when you get started.

Facts, policies, history. Whatever they talk about is fine. Ask more questions to get clarity on what they’re thinking and feeling until you feel like you understand. 

Take your time. Ask a few questions, and when you’re ready to leave, say something like, “Wow. Thanks for your time, Zac. It’s been really helpful for me to hear your perspective. I’d like to keep reflecting on this and would love to keep the conversation going. Can we talk again tomorrow?”

Does the idea of entering into this type of “research” scare you, Friend? I know how you feel. It’s hard to put yourself in situations where you don’t feel confident. I can help you with that.

Sign up for a free 30 minute session with me. 

We’ll talk about what fears are holding you back, and I’ll give you a tool or strategy to help you feel more confident when you go into conversations like these.

Gathering information and understanding other perspectives one part of problem solving. 

When you start to feel more confident in this one area, you’ll also bring more ease and confidence to the other areas—like knowing what you want and expressing it clearly, knowing how to respond to someone in the moment, and knowing how to start (and end) difficult conversations.

If you’re ready to take the next step, sign up for your free session here.

Expecting the best for you today!

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© 2015 AMY RYMER