We make our biggest impact, not by our grandest lifetime achievements, but by the little things we do every day.
There is opportunity everywhere and within every moment for you to do good in the world and to feel good about doing it. And here’s a little secret: the impact and the feeling are so much more lusciously intense when your good act comes in the face of conflict.
And, unlike building a rocket ship or an orphanage, you already have everything you need to be the hero of the conflict:
When someone wrongs you – cuts you off in line, in conversation – your body will react immediately. It’s okay, it’s your instinct. You still have a chance to get the best of it, but first, you have to notice it’s happening…
Take a Second
You don’t need to have all the answers. There usually isn’t a magic bullet in these situations, but by taking a breath, just one breath, you free yourself from reactive mode, get yourself off a linear track, and open the both of you up to an infinite array of endings.
Lose the Righteousness
You will never bring about goodness in conflict if you live in Righteousness. What is it you really want to do? Be right? Or be good?
See the Other Person
Look over at them. They’re probably yelling or scowling. They’ve become a caricature of who they really are. Moments ago, they were picking out Oatmeal, and before that, they were fixing their hair in the rearview mirror. To truly connect, for you to even *want* to connect, they have to a become 3 -dimensional person. It doesn’t take a long, just a breath.
Fight for the Both of You
They may be wrong. They may be offensive. But you will both walk away pissed off and injured. So here’s the last thing. This may be the hardest part but it’s where the payoff hides: you must deliver your next lines from a place of Love. You can bet they will be surprised. And they will resist. It may take a few attempts, but it will work. It always works.
Hatred in a conflict is like a fire between the two parties. Harsh words come with hot breaths that feed the burn from both sides. Walking away doesn’t work because the other person will keep breathing and talking and feeding the fire and, contrary to what you believe, you will keep getting burned.
If you continue with your righteous argument, you will, of course, make the fire bigger and leave yourself with scars.
There is only one way to get away unmarked: the fire has to die. The hot breaths have to stop from both sides, which means one of you has to do the difficult thing of reaching out over the flames while the fire’s still growing.