A simple technique to help everyone with everyday conflicts and disagreements

on Fri 9 Aug

Whether it’s a conflict at work or disagreement at home, it’s really easy to become super focused on our own experience, on what we saw, heard or felt rather than thinking about what the other person may have experienced.  

But this doesn’t necessarily help us to resolve problems or arguments and it certainly doesn’t help us build better relationships.

So what can we do?  Well, there’s a technique from the world of Neuro-Linguistic-Programming (NLP) called Perceptual Positions which is all about helping us understand the situation from someone else’s point of view.  It’s not about agreeing with them or giving in, it’s about seeing things from a different perspective, defusing overwhelming emotions and helping you make constructive decisions about what to do.

It’s a really valuable life skill and something that can be adapted for the whole family. It might just help to keep the peace.

A 3-step approach

The simplified and condensed version of the NLP technique involves experiencing the situation or conflict from 3 different positions: 

Position 1: Seeing things from your personal experience and point of view

Position 2: Seeing things from the other person's point of view

Position 3: Observing from a neutral position (you become a fly on the wall)


Recall the conflict, issue or grievance allowing yourself to experience things from your point of view (position 1). Take your time and really get a sense of what you’re thinking and feeling.

When you’ve done that, shake off position 1, move around a bit and take a deep breath.


Imagine stepping into the other person’s shoes (position 2) and get a sense of what it’s like to actually be them - to experience everything from their position.  Recall the conflict, issue or grievance and consider what they might they be thinking and feeling at that moment.  Imagine what they might say about this situation and take your time to see the situation through their eyes and from their perspective.  

When you’ve got a real sense of their position, open your eyes, shake off position 2, move around a bit and take a deep breath.


Now it’s time to become a ‘fly on the wall’ (position 3).  Imagine you’re standing back looking at the whole situation as a concerned but neutral observer.  What do you notice from this position?  What’s going on here? What do both parties need to resolve this?   Remember, when you’re in position 3 you’re not involved so it’s not about taking sides or being right.

This whole process is about stepping outside your own experience to see things from a different perspective, so you can understand your own needs as well as the needs of others. You can also see the impact of your behaviour and how the other person may be feeling about you.

Whether you’ve had a hoo-ha with your spouse, or the kids have fallen out, you can adapt this process to work for you.


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