The Dying Art of Relational Diplomacy

Lesley Glenner

Are you skillful when relating to friends, family, colleagues, and strangers—even when conflicts arise? Can you access sensitivity and true empathy toward others’ points of view, even when you disagree or feel triggered?

Even if we have specifically been trained in conflict resolution, most of us find disagreements uncomfortable, confronting and/or challenging. It’s natural to want to freeze, fight or flee. Yet another, more nuanced, option exists: relational diplomacy.

Work toward conflict resolution in your relationships.
At HoloBeing, we define relational diplomacy as the ability to create, sustain and maintain connection while in disagreement or conflict with another. It’s where both parties feel subjectively ‘right’ (or in the right) and yet feel that finding a mutually agreeable path forward serves both parties.

In our increasingly isolated lives, we may find that simply turning away from repair and resolution with others is easier than working things out. Yeah, we’re talking about “ghosting”—pretty much the opposite of relational diplomacy.

The cost of losing this dying art is living an increasingly isolated life—a siloed existence. Or it means befriending only those who think and act as we do —leading to echo chambers that are the hallmark of isolationist politics.  It can also mean that our relationships become increasingly incoherent, as conflicts are pushed under the rug and threads of connection between ourselves and the ones we love become frayed, damaged or disconnected.

Whether it takes place in our personal or in our community relationships, turning away from repair and resolution ultimately only leads to a lack of growth- which isn’t just unfortunate- it actually leads to one of the greatest existential threats to humanity- DECOHERENCE.

Diplomacy rather than Separateness
Often we find ourselves in conflict when an explicit (or implicit) agreement has been breached or compromised. If one or both parties are unhappy and moving away from connection–this is separateness.

If we want to maintain a peace with those we see as having values or ideas different from our own, we can turn to diplomacy and discretion.

Our goal can be attunement and finding a “win-win,” rather than reacting in a polarizing way–wishing to be the winner or the one who is “right”. It is human nature to want to be right, but we can rise above this instinctual programming.

On the other hand, it is possible to go too far in the opposite direction — care taking of the others’ feelings while suppressing our own. To find a balance, we must communicate in a respectful way, but also recognize our own boundaries and truth.

Identify the precursors to diplomacy.
Following is a list of concepts that are precursors to relational diplomacy. It’s a tall order, but each area presents an opportunity for growth and development between two or more parties in conflict.

– Trust that a win-win is possible
– Compassion for ourselves and the other
– Safety inside ourselves (sovereignty)
– Healthy empathy (without enmeshment or rescuing)
– Knowing ourselves and our truth in the moment
– Tracking ourselves and the other–beyond words, recognizing feelings and thoughts a situation may be evoking
– Ability to check our projections and assumptions
– Commitment to relationship over ‘rightness’
– Willingness to compromise without sacrificing your truth

Decide if the timing is right.
Researcher Brene Brown offers a useful Engaged Feedback Checklist to identify whether you are ready for feedback/ resolution.

HoloBeing’s Fellowship Circle supports holistic businesses owners of all kinds – especially healer-types – to find their business strengths and the business growth strategies that resonate deeply with their being.  We support you through exploring your business and money light and shadow so that you can move past deep-seated blocks and grow the business and life that you are capable of.  Read more about the one-of-a-kind Fellowship Circle here, the benefits of our group and how you can join.

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