The essential strategies that promote peaceful living between partners under normal circumstances are beautifully summarized in this morning’s NYTimes – in the context of coping with the stresses of the current pandemic.
I am not a very good sleeper. Going to bed upset or overwhelmed can keep me up and tossing until 3 a.m. You might think, then, that I would welcome the imperative that one should resolve all disagreements before settling down for the night. Should I perhaps be heeding the wisdom in the New Testament verse — “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26) — often quoted as the source for this entrenched belief?
Harri Holkeri, a former Finnish prime minister (1937-2011) who helped shepherd talks that led to the historic 1998 peace agreement in Northern Ireland, died this week in Helsinki. In a speech in 2008, Mr. Holkeri cited several reasons he and his colleagues were able to guide the long-divided parties to a deal. I wondered, as I read the NYTimes obituary, whether these might be helpful in navigating our own everyday disagreements and conflicts.
One of my favorite books on the subject of handling tough conversations and situations is Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (Stone, Patton, Heen & Fisher, 2010). Based on 15 years of work at the Harvard Negotiation Project and consultations with thousands of people struggling to communicate effectively in tough situations, the authors answer the question: When people confront the conversations they dread the most, what works?