Principles For How We Treat Each Other
Let’s face it, when we’re experiencing strong negative emotions, we’re rarely being our best selves.
Intense feelings of anger, sadness, or fear can undermine our own best interests. We may panic, lash out, shut down, or completely dominate the conversation. These intense feelings may hinder our goal of solving the problem at hand.
Conflict resolution is important—whether you’re going through a divorce or simply navigating an issue with a coworker. But good conflict resolution doesn’t happen by accident.
Before you can take steps toward healthy, productive communication, you need to create the right environment.
“Contain” Your Emotions
We often hear that we need to “control” our emotions and keep them in check. This isn’t because emotions are harmful—far from it! Emotions are an inescapable part of being human and make life infinitely more fulfilling. In addition, emotions may reveal crucial information – things we need to know to get to a sustainable resolution. Therefore, we need to work with our emotions instead of against them by engaging in positive behaviors that help us regulate our bodies and brains.
Before we can navigate and resolve conflict, it’s important to recognize any feelings that stand in the way of us understanding perspectives, hearing others, and sharing truthfully. At Leap Frog, we start by creating a “container” (or environment) that allows us to share our feelings and ideas in an authentic and constructive way.
At first, it might feel a little strange. But that’s okay! It always feels strange to learn a new skill. But I have seen incredible healing, growth, and resolution happen when these Principles are put into practice.
The Principles For How We Treat Each Other
Before beginning a mediation or conflict resolution session, we like to go over the 12 Principles For How We Treat Each Other. These principles were originally developed by the Peace and Justice Institute but they can be applied universally as a way to encourage cooperation and harmony between others.
These Principles are the foundation of the work we do at Leap Frog, which is why we take turns reading them together out loud before we begin the process. While it might seem strange at first, we have found that this is the best way to hold ourselves and each other accountable.
1. Create a Hospitable Environment
We all arrive in isolation and need the generosity of friendly welcomes. Extending a spirit of welcome helps others feel a sense of belonging and safety.
2. Listen Deeply
Listen intently to what is said. Listen to the feelings beneath the words. Strive to achieve a balance between listening and reflecting, speaking and acting.
3. Create an Advice-Free Zone
Replace advice with curiosity. We are not here to set someone else straight, to “fix” what we perceive as broken in another.
4. Practice Asking Honest and Open Questions
Allow sincere curiosity to guide your question. A great question is one you don’t know the answer to. Ask to learn.
5. Give Space For Unpopular Answers
Answer questions honestly even if the answer seems unpopular. Be present to listen not debate, correct, or interpret.
6. Respect Silence
Silence is a rare gift in our busy world and it can be uncomfortable sometimes. After someone has spoken, take time to reflect without immediately filling the space with words. This applies to the speaker as well. Be comfortable leaving your words to resound in the silence, without refining or elaborating on what you have said.
7. Suspend Judgment
Create a space between your judgments and reactions. By doing this, you create the opportunity to listen to the other, and to yourself, more fully.
8. Identify Assumptions
Our assumptions are usually invisible to us, yet they are the foundation of our worldview. By identifying our assumptions, we can identify how they may be impeding our understanding of other perspectives.
9. Speak Your Truth
You are invited to say what is in your heart, trusting that your voice will be heard and your contribution respected. Own your truth by remembering to speak only for yourself. Using the first person “I” rather than “you” or “everyone” clearly communicates the personal nature of your expression.
10. When Things Get Difficult, Turn To Wonder
If you find yourself disagreeing with another, becoming judgmental, or shutting down in defense, try turning to wonder: “I wonder what brought her to this place?” “I wonder what my reaction teaches me?” “I wonder what he’s feeling right now?”
11. Practice Slowing Down
When we intentionally slow down, we strengthen our ability to intentionally act in ways that support our goals.
12. All Voices Have Value
We may not always like what another person says. It’s challenging to listen to ideas and perspectives vastly at odds with those we hold. And when we allow a voice to be heard, we have the opportunity to learn something that may help resolve our issue or expand our worldview.
Whether you’re navigating issues with a significant other, family member, or colleague, using these 12 Principles to create behavioral expectations is an excellent way to strengthen relationships.
At Leap Frog, we don’t believe in helping you “get over ” your obstacles. We want to teach you how to resolve them in a transformative way that allows everyone to feel seen, heard, and respected.