Summary: When it comes to conflict resolution, when is eye contact helpful—and when is it hurtful? The answer is individual.
I recently received an e-mail message from Jon R. of Ohio who attended my communications workshop there last week. Part of the workshop focused on the 3 basic steps to conflict resolution. Jon writes in his message that the best way for him to resolve conflict is to "depersonalize" it using logic. And he points out, accurately, that the 3 steps I teach all specifically personalize what's going on.
Step one in conflict resolution is: Open your eyes! In other words, make eye contact.
It makes sense that some individuals—like Jon—find it helpful to cognitively process by detaching from the situation (and thus detaching from any excess emotions that may cloud their ability to make clear decisions and communicate well). However, making eye contact is imperative to showing respect to your 'opponent' in long-term conflict resolution. Read this e-article by Gail Seymour on How to Maintain Eye Contact. And don't forget to check out the related links with even more info. on the pros and cons of eye contact.
My 3 basic steps to conflict resolution start with this essential. I teach clients how to work through uncomfortable moments to go deeper into their feelings and come through them successfully. But the bottom line is, you should do what works best for you whenever you need to regain your composure and think—and speak—clearly.
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