Two kinds of conversations you can have when you’re in difficulty with others:
The first is an inner conversation.
You talk to yourself, in the privacy of your own thoughts, about their thoughts and motivations. You invent moves and counter-moves, and you weigh your course of action against the imaginary actions of your foe. You’re sure you can read others’ minds. You reassure yourself that you’re right.
In this conversation, you get to decide what’s true, even if it’s far removed from what’s going on.
You may be way off the mark. You may well be keeping the conflict going. But at least you’re in charge.
The second is an outer conversation.
You speak with the other person, asking them what they want, listening deeply and fully. You make requests clearly and completely.
It’s risky. They may say no. You might find out you’ve misunderstood.
And you’re making yourself vulnerable to disappointment, to shame, to your own self-judgement.
In the second conversation you no longer have the monopoly on the truth. But in giving up your rightness, you’re much more likely to discover what is true.
And you open yourself to the possibility of hope, surely more powerful than spiralling further into rigidity, certainty and mistrust?