While disagreements and conflict can be normal parts of a relationship, compromised safety should not be viewed as normal!
There are two conditions that put safety at risk:
1. A lack of mutual purpose - Mutual purpose means you are working together for a common outcome and parties involved care about everyone's interests and values. When there is a lack of mutual purpose people become defensive and there may be accusations and hidden agendas that keep conversation stuck in conflict.
See if mutual purpose is at risk by asking:
Do I care about the other party’s goals in this discussion and am I communicating that I care?
Do I believe they care about mine?
Do I trust their intentions?
Do they trust my intentions?
2. A lack of mutual respect -When there is a lack of respect then a conversation becomes more about defending pride and self-esteem, or controlling the other person. Remember that you don't have to agree with what someone is saying to respect them.
See if mutual respect is at risk by asking:
Do I respect the other party?
Do I feel that they respect me?
Here is the problem: When someone feels unsafe they tend to resort to either silence or violence.
Silence is when you selectively share certain information and withhold other important information. You want to avoid creating a problem, but the result is that others involved in the conversation don't know what you really think. This makes it near impossible to achieve mutual purpose and mutual respect.
Violence is trying to force others to adopt your views or do what you want, against their will. It may involve applying psychological pressure to comply with their view through verbal or physical threats, belittling, or other forms of control.
To personally overcome falling into silence or violence you need to self-monitor by focusing on what you're doing and the impact of your reactions. From this you can adjust your behaviour accordingly by working at restoring mutual purpose and respect. However, if you feel unsafe and are the victim of any forms of violence, know that this is NEVER acceptable behaviour and you have the right to safety! (see resources that can help you below)
How to restore mutual purpose and respect:
Apologising when you've made a mistake that has negatively affected others.
Fix a misunderstanding - Confirm your respect and clarify your intentions.
Listen without belittling or forcing your opinion.
Contribute your honest perspective and solution ideas.
Commit to seek mutual purpose - agree that you will come to a solution that considers both sides.
Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo & Anselma Shelter - https://wcswr.org/
Sexual Assault Support Centre - www.sascwr.org
Family Counselling Centre, Cambridge - https://fcccnd.com/
Green Valley Counselling - https://greenvalleycounselling.com/
Cambridge Shelter - https://www.cambridgesheltercorp.ca/
The information on this email/blog is intended for general education purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional and/or medical advice.