What a sparrow reminded me about resolving conflict

 In Blog, Effective Dialogue

(Time to read: ~2 minutes)

There’s a beautiful little sparrow who really wants to build a nest on the shelf in our bathroom.

Day after day we see him sitting on the roof just outside the bathroom window with bits of grass in his beak.

And day after day he keeps bumping his beak and ruffling his feathers as he repeatedly tries to fly through the glass.

We’ve tried all kinds of things to let him know that he can’t get through. We’ve put objects in the way, and he tries to fly between them. We covered the window with paper, and then he started banging into the glass panel in our screen door.

He reminds me of how we humans can be when we’re not happy about what someone else is doing.

It seems so simple! If the other person would just do things the way we want, everything would be fine.

Just like if the window wasn’t there, that shelf would make a wonderful nesting spot for our little sparrow.

We may try all kinds of things to get the other person to do what we want – asking or telling them to do it, explaining why we want them to do it, complaining about them not doing it…

Just like the bird keeps repeatedly trying to make a beeline for that shelf.

But the window is there, and the other person has good reasons for doing what they’re doing.

In order to build our ‘nest’ of a successful solution, we need to expand our awareness to include what matters to the other person. Just like our sparrow will be more successful in finding a nesting spot if he expands his awareness to include the bathroom window (and the screen door).

So the next time you find yourself in a conflict with someone, consider starting the conversation by asking them how they see things? Maybe you’ll discover there’s a window in their way.

And by pooling what’s in their awareness with what’s in your awareness, together you’ll find a truly workable solution.

Just like we hope our sparrow has finally included the glass in his awareness and expanded his options to find a really good nesting spot, because he hasn’t been banging on the window today.

Looking for more?

Understanding what’s important to the other person is a great skill to practice.

But it’s not the whole story.

If you’re finding it’s not enough to resolve some of the frustrations and worries in your life, consider expanding your toolkit. You can read about¬†

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