Resolve Conflict With 3 T’ai Chi Secrets

    It seemed like an innocent little comment, but the other person took it totally the wrong way. Soon you’re engaged in a full-blown argument. You’re dead-set on defending what you said and proving the other person is making a big deal out of nothing.

    Conflict like this is inevitable. We each live, at least to some degree, in our “own little worlds” and our worlds often collide—over issues small and large. T’ai Chi is an ancient art that teaches us how to resolve conflict gracefully while creating win-win solutions. In this article, we’ll explore a three-step conflict resolution technique inspired by the principles of T’ai Chi.

    T’ai Chi is based on the simple idea that life works best when you allow a free flow of energy within you and between yourself and others. In contrast, we get into conflicts when we rigidly hold onto thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that restrict the flow of energy and create tension within ourselves and with others. For example, it’s an iron-clad rule that an argument will escalate when you hold onto the idea of “proving that you are right and the other person is wrong.”

    In contrast, in T’ai Chi you begin by letting go. This is the first step in the three-step conflict-resolution process:

    1. Let go of attachment to your point of view. Your point of view got you into this mess in the first place, so a good place to begin is to let it go. Take a mental break from the point you’re trying to make. In T’ai Chi, we let go by focusing into body sensations and consciously relaxing. An easy way to release tension is to shake out—your arms, your legs, and your whole body.

    Now, sometimes you may struggle with letting go of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors because you think they somehow define you or make you “good or bad.” However, your point of view is just one way of thinking and doing things—amongst many possibilities. It’s neither right nor wrong. It’s just a perspective on what is happening. Letting it go will open up better, more expansive and positive possibilities than hanging onto it.

    2. Return to your calm center. Underneath the commotion of conflict is a Core part of you that is calm, clear, and connected to inner guidance. In T’ai Chi, we find a calm center in the lower abdomen and practice breathing from there. Taking a walk in nature or following a meditation technique are also great ways to relax into your Core and get free from the tangles of your little point of view. Once you’ve relaxed into that part of you that is beyond the ups and downs of everyday life, you can see things more clearly.

    3. Engage the other person with the intent to create a win-win solution. Having been refreshed by visiting your calm center, come back to the other person with a desire to hear their point of view. This opens the possibility of a mutual agreement that respects you both and gives you both what you need. In T’ai Chi, we practice “push-hands,” which is a way to sense the energy of another person and relate to them in a non-aggressive, cooperative way.

    Now, you may be surprised to discover how quickly someone else will let down their guard when you come to them non-aggressively and sincerely seek to understand their point of view. Once the other person feels heard, they are much more likely to listen to you as well. In that context, it’s so much easier to find mutually-agreeable, win-win solutions.

    I encourage you to practice the above three steps to grow your skill at resolving conflict and getting to those win-win solutions. Like any skill, you’ll get better and better at this the more you do it. I’d love to hear what works well for you in resolving conflict in the Comments below.

    Also, please share with your family, friends, and co-workers through the social sharing links. Thanks for sharing!

      23 Responses to “Resolve Conflict With 3 T’ai Chi Secrets”

      1. ghiny Ara says:

        Thank you, I`m really like it i will read it again and again
        I would love to say thank you so much!

      2. parimala says:

        Great. Just like a god sent gift. Instantly my mood uplifted. Thanks a tonne.

      3. DRL says:

        The question for me here is: Does it work well when dealing with women?;-))

      4. David says:

        Thanks. Your method sounds very good. I will try it. The person that I was in conflict seems to have been in a totally different space. In carrying on an ordinary conversation I asked this person one or two questions, just small talk. I was accused of interrogating her. I then became upset as I felt totally innocent.

      5. Kathy says:

        I have been having trouble lately communicating with my 6 year old granddaughter. I Love her very much and pick her up from school each day. Immediately upon seeing me, she sometimes gets defensive before I even say “Hi”.
        If she forgets something, she immediately tells me I am at fault. I want to be able to have a great relationship with her. I am looking for a way that does not hurt her but lets her know I am here for her. I am going to try harder to talk quietly and answer her with kindness even when she is rebeling.

        1. Hi Kathy, David, and DRL,
          I do think this works well with men and women and kids.

          Sometimes people are used to the ways we have been with them in the past and have a hard time seeing that we are relating differently.

          Persistent letting go, centering ourselves, and expressing a sincere desire to understand the other person’s point of view does work wonders over time.

          You might even let the other person know that you’d really like to relate differently and would like to hear their side as a start.

          Here’s to better communications for us all!
          Kevin

      6. Gene says:

        Hello

        Having studied Tai Chi for over thirty years, and teaching it to seniors and others, I can verify the concepts here. They do work. The real problem is working them. They only work if we work them, but that requires a lot of patience and a lot of discipline, and it isn’t so simple as to know these things with the head. They must be practiced until it is second nature. That is the only way anything really works. The ego will do anything to remain in control. It is sneaky and it is subtle. But they key is to just let go. (But how do you do that?) It doesn’t happen just because we want it to. It only happens with a great deal of practice. Years in fact.

        Gene

      7. Gene says:

        In response to DRL

        When men deal with women,the rules are not so simple. The problem is that women feel something men are often unaware of, it is called sexual tension. The same principles work if the woman isn’t feeling that. If she does, you had better just get out of the situation as fast as you can.

        Gene

      8. Danielle Kaufhold says:

        I thank you for this offering – it is a very important one. I am all for the principle of always hearing the other side, however, I do have some questions.

        Isn’t (1) letting go, (2) centering self and (3) sincerely wanting to hear the other point of view and trying to find common ground in a way equivalent to capitulating if the other side hold on to its/their position, 100% – whether it be defending alternate life style, right to choose or gay marriage/ ministry or lately euthanasia or religious fundamentalism and there are many more?
        Isn’t letting go of our own truth/perspective the condition to eliminating conflict?
        Can we not agree to disagree? Or does anything matter?
        Issues such as those mentioned are often inherently polarizing. Perhaps, in favor of detachment and good relations, should we not avoid to even begin those sorts of polarizing conversations?

        1. Hi Gene and Danielle,
          Thanks for your input.

          To Gene I wholeheartedly agree with your point about practice.

          To Danielle’s questions, these principles will lead to all sorts of different outcomes depending on the nature of the relationship, circumstances, history. . .
          Sometimes, we agree to disagree and that is a whole different place to come to than just hammering our points at each other. And, sometimes it’s not important to come to common ground. We can respect that others have different points of view–and that’s great to recognize and honor.

          As principles, I believe these are sound and effective steps to come to more common ground and more agreement in those situations and relationships where it is important to do so.

          Thanks for participating!
          Kevin

      9. Brenda says:

        Hi Kevin,
        I am gradually learning to do this…often if you say ‘well I do see your point of view, you may be right” the other person is so astonished they calm down and then sometimes even actually listen to you! You can often calm yourself too if you take a few calm breaths before you get upset.

        1. Thanks Brenda. It’s good to hear from you.
          I like the way you phrased that!
          Kevin

      10. Ayesha says:

        This was good, if only others would practice it (smile). But letting go of your point of view isn’t easy because you have to let go of the need to be right, while making the other person wrong. Lately I’ve come in contact with people who love drama, who gossip, and love to keep people upset with one another. Decided today to avoid these people and to meditate and send light to all of them. Don’t like drama and see it as totally unnecessary. The only reason why I’ve come in contact with these people is because I have to take my 5 year old granddaughter to the school bus stop every morning and pick her up every afternoon. Drama, drama, drama between the parents. Focusing on peace love and light and taking my granddaughter to school to avoid the bus stop.
        I need peace in my life now and don’t see the opportunity to resolve any of the conflicts.

        1. Hi Ayesha,
          Yes, in that case, perhaps those relationships are not ones you choose to engage in and, hence, have no reason to resolve any conflict you find there.

          Peace,
          Kevin

      11. DRL says:

        I thank those who responded to my humorous comment. Though there is a difference between how men respond as opposed to how women respond. When men are pressed to talk by a woman, there is allot of hesitation because of rebound reaction. Once a man speaks his truth it is not always accepted and thus the other person feels emotional rejection.
        I was taught that “Truth is the language of Love”, but so many people cannot handle the truth. Even I have trouble with seeing the real ‘Me”, thus put up walls to protect.
        Three steps: I will use this and see what happens.

      12. Bruce says:

        Kevin,

        Do you practice T’ai Chi?

        If you do, you would realize that there is no way to avoid conflict. You can only divert it.

        1. Hi Bruce,
          Yes, I have practiced and taught T’ai Chi for 30 years.

          This post is not about avoiding conflict. In fact, it says that conflict is inevitable. This is about three steps to resolve conflict when we get into it.

          Kevin

      13. Peter says:

        Hi, I found an exception for this to work. I have some acquaintances who are teachers. they only accept what ever they say. They are totally do as I say people. i suspect that this was all they do as teachers.

        1. Hi Peter,
          It’s certainly true that when others are set on hanging on tightly to their opinions, it can be hard or not possible to come to mutual resolutions. On the other hand, I find that when I really engage the other person and honor what they have to say, they are sometimes more open to what I have to say. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t–depending on the people involved and the relationship.
          Thanks for your comment,
          Kevin

      14. Esther says:

        Thanks , let go the point view your holding and listen to the other person view, i will practice .

      15. Ronald Noble says:

        My martial art is called ATADO and my brother and I was taught by beloved sensei, LEONG FU. Sensei was a world champion and beat all comers from any discipline.
        Atado is encapsulated in the sentence: “Do not start a fight, ever.” If one starts a fight, one must be expect to be mercilessly beaten.
        Is there a historical precedent for Atado? Yes there is:
        Pearl Harbor….Hiroshima….Nagasaki

        1. Quite a powerful example, Ronald.
          Thanks for sharing that,
          Kevin

      16. Hi! We are kindered spirits! Your words ring true. I enjoy teaching and practicing Tai Chi and also wrote a blog post about it. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed yours! 🙂 http://yourpowerfullife.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/tai-chi-making-space-in-your-life/

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