I recently had a disagreement with a friend of mine that I am close to. One of my close friends was getting married and she picked the color red as the color she wanted her bridal party to wear. However, one of my friends who was in the bridal party told the bride to be that “Why would you pick that color; of all of the colors in the world, why would you pick red?” I told my friend that it is our friends wedding and we are there to support her and not to question her judgment especially if she knows what she wants.
I went on to say that when it is your special day, you can pick the color(s) you want and execute everything the way you see fit so that your day is just as special. It wasn’t my comment that caused conflict, it was my delivery. I have learned that conflict usually arises when a person delivers a message in a manner that is confrontational or condescending; for my situation, my comment was direct and unwavering because I said something one of my friends did not want to receive. In fact, she went on to say “If we are friends, I shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells and I should be able to say what I want”. I informed her that that is true, but you also have to realize that we are adults and sometimes you need to keep your comments to yourself and just be a support.
I used cooperative strategies by playing devil’s advocate to assist in resolving this conflict so that both parties could benefit from this conversation. I presented the same scenario but I just reversed the parties involved (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2009, p. 212). Although the process of NVC encourages us to focus on what we and others are observing separate from our interpretations and judgments, I wanted my friend to “put the shoe on the other foot” I wanted her to “step out of herself” and analyze the situation from both perspectives without me passing judgment but so that she could understand the frustration of our friend/the bride –to-be.I felt applying some of the principles of nonviolent communication as a strategy to resolve this conflict would allow both parties to be respectful to each other’s views and to share their true feelings while being sensitive to each other’s views as well. NVC places strong emphasis on personal responsibility for our actions and the choices we make when we respond to others, as well as how to contribute to relationships based in cooperation and collaboration.
As a friend to the bride-to-be and to my girlfriend, I wanted my girlfriend to recognize the needs of the bride-to be. Although I was able to get both parties to speak, at times the conversation was heated and intense. Although they articulated their feelings, the bride-to- be told my girlfriend that she did not want her in her wedding and did not want her support for her wedding. I was sad that things turned out the way it did, but I understood completely. I am happy to say that although the bride-to-be did not invite our friend to the wedding, time did heal this wound and they are now on speaking terms again and they managed to forgive each other and focus on the friendship.
For the sake of the above conflict, it was not appropriate for me to ask my colleagues for advice on communication skills to resolve the above conflict.
O'Hair, D., & Wiemann, M. (2009). Retrieved: July 23, 2012. Real communication. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's.
The Center for Nonviolent Communication. (n.d.). Retrieved: July 23, 2012. The center for nonviolent communication. Retrieved from www.cnvc.org