Do You Want To Be Right Or Happy? How To Resolve Conflict

Written by Mike Goulding, LCSW

I love the phrase, Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?Maybe you have an uncle who constantly engages you in heated discussions about politics when you obviously have a different opinion. Or maybe you and a friend have a very different idea about what happened with a past issue. You've tried to convince her many times before and she's not seeing it your way. 

It's time to give up winning the argument and start taking charge of the situation by taking charge of yourself.

When you feel the urge to defend yourself against the ridiculous point your relative has just made, you can use the Peace Survival Kit and take an Aikido approach instead.

Aikido is a Japanese martial art (also known as the art of peace) that empowers people to protect themselves without having to hurt other people. These techniques can be applied to verbal confrontations with others.

So going back to your argumentative relative, you can use the three steps in an Aikido move in your verbal differences:

  • Evade
  • Align
  • Enter

Evade: Let the other person’s behavior go by once or twice to see if he stops on his own.

Align: Let the other person know that you want to be on her side by validating points and showing her that you're at least hearing what she's saying. (This does not mean you have to agree with everything.)

Enter: Establish boundaries by stating the behavior you expect from the other person.

Let’s apply this to a situation you might encounter.

Your Relative: I see you're still on that silly vegetarian diet.

You: [Evade by saying something to give permission for the conversation to move onto something else.] I actually have more energy now. How does your son like his new job?

Your Relative: You see, there we go again.

You: [Align.] I hear you in that we have different views about what to eat. I would really like to have a peaceful visit with you and make it more comfortable for everyone else here.

Your Relative: All the vegetarians I know are crazy. Who brainwashed you? 

You: [Enter.] I’m going to have to stop this conversation if it stays on this course. I would appreciate you dropping this old argument that we've not been able to resolve and at least be polite to one another.

Did you see what happened there? Instead of trying to defend yourself against the comments you are now managing yourself in a way that is not attacking the other person. You walk away at peace with knowing that you did the best you could to keep the situation peaceful with your relative.

It does not matter what the other person does after that, but often times he/she responds to your self-mastery that is positive for everyone. When the other person does not respond in a positive way then there is a better chance to get the support of others in the room as a bonus benefit of your self-mastery.

The Aikido principle of yielding and overcoming is played out here. By not participating in the argument, you win with the potential of everyone else around you winning too.

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