Finding The Third Way

I am teaching my Human Relations class at the University of Pittsburgh this semester and am preparing for my next class.  The course looks at all facets of human relations and I am using Steven Covey's book, "The 8th Habit."

The premise for our class tomorrow is that in every relationship we encounter some form of conflict - and these conflicts can cause serious problems in relationships that are important to us.  Often conflicts can stem from silly, or mundane issues, yet the fact that most of our relationships emanate from an emotional perspective makes these conflicts hard to resolve.

When conflicts unfold most people can dig deeper into to their perspective, which differs from the other person's perspective; thus the conflict!  So often the nub of the conflict is that people don't want to let go, and if they do, it appears that they are losing.  This comes out as a win-lose perspective.  A compromise here is that people might "give in" this time, but then expect that the other person in the relationship will give in the next time.  These kinds of compromise however, never really strengthen a relationship.

In "The 8th Habit," Covey talks about a third way.  Not your way, or my way, but a third way is sought out when a conflict arises.  This notion of a "third way" is what frames a win-win philosophy.

Yet, finding a third way is not easy. It takes work, and empathic listening, to really understand the other person's perspective, and then being willing to let go of your own agenda to help frame a third way.

So what about you.  Have you thought about how you might find a third way when conflicts unfold in your life?