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How to Fight: 10 Rules of Relationship Conflict Resolution – Episode 151 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

conflict resolution

In this week’s episode of the Action Catalyst Podcast, Rory shares his recent run-in with anger and his realization that anger is an emotion that needs to be managed. So much of the problems we have today are related to people trying to get along with one another – and not getting it.

Listen in to learn about the mentality and mindset of dealing with conflict and creating resolution in your relationships that matter.

Show Highlights:

  • Anger is a dangerous form of indulgence. @rory_vaden
  • Anger is a natural emotion and emotions must be managed. @rory_vaden
  • One of the highest callings of mankind is to learn to manage our emotions and to channel them productively into useful, purposeful and reasonable action that forwards our collective progress. @rory_vaden
  • “Are you going to allow your emotions to manage you or are you going to be the kind of person who rises up, takes control, and manages your emotions to achieve great things?” @rory_vaden
  • relationships develop not from the absence of conflict but by determining an agreeable pattern for how to resolve the conflict. @rory_vaden
  • Become a master of your emotions. @rory_vaden
  • Yelling is destructive because it clouds our judgement and ability to assess what is and what is not. @rory_vaden
  • Always start and end the conversation by affirming that you care about the other person. @rory_vaden
  • Be open to the idea that you made a mistake even if you’re sure you did not. @rory_vaden
  • Don’t speak in generalities and absolutes. @rory_vaden
  • Be hard on the problem, easy on the person. @rory_vaden
  • Work to be the first to apologize. @rory_vaden
  • Focus on trying to discover what’s right not who is right. @rory_vaden
  • Exaggerated language is often proof of exaggerated understanding. @rory_vaden
  • Belittling a person always shifts the focus from resolving the actual problem. @rory_vaden
  • Remind yourself that the person you’re talking to cares about the relationship and finding the resolution. @rory_vaden
  • Often you’re on the same team even if you’re not on the same page. @rory_vaden
  • Never ask another person to fill a hole in your life only God can fill. @rory_vaden


The Action Catalyst show is a weekly podcast that Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting™ hosts every Wednesday, which is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts and has listeners from all around the world. The show shares “insights and inspiration to help you take action”. Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews one very special expert guest and thought leader every week. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review!

Harnessing Anger

harnessing anger

Anger is a dangerous form of indulgence.

I was once again reminded of this when recently I made the mistake of having an (ineffective) conversation based out of my anger instead of out of reason.

Afterwards it occurred to me that while feeling angry is certainly a very natural emotion, we must realize it is still an emotion.

And one of the highest callings of mankind is to learn to manage our emotions and to channel them productively into useful, purposeful, and reasonable action that forwards our collective progress.

To act out of only anger then is an immature practice of losing to one’s own emotion.

To operate out of sheer anger is a lack of self-control and a transparent admission of our inability to self-govern.

To retaliate solely in anger is to give up our humanity by foregoing our unique ability to reason.

If we enable our emotions to solely dictate our behaviors, then it is only savage instinct rather than beautiful intellect that shapes our lives.

Not only that, but allowing anger to dictate our actions is a demonstration of our own short sightedness.

Because when has acting immediately and only out of anger ever led to a long term sustained resolution?

Probably never.

It cannot resolve anything between two parties because anger is only one-sided. It is the ultimate expression of careless self-centeredness because it disallows you from considering any other person or perspective. You instead allow yourself only to be blinded by your own anger.

Which is why anger is, paradoxically, very weak.

Like all forms of indulgence, anger deceives us into thinking that giving into the short term temptation of allowing ourselves to be
is the best thing to do. But not only does it never lead to resolve, it in fact makes things much worse in the long run.

Like all emotions, anger can lead to good but only when it is channeled into careful, thoughtful, deliberate, peaceful and reasonable action.

So I suppose the question then for all of us is “are you going to allow your emotions to manage you or are you going to be the kind of person who rises up and instead masters your emotions?”

How to Change Your Life

how to change your life

We like to think that all of the things we believe in our minds are factually true, but they often are not.

Because our brains don’t delineate between true and false. The brain doesn’t inherently know what is accurate and what is false.

So, instead we simply believe whatever we tell ourselves most often.

Whatever we hear or assume over and over again is what we accept as truth.

The human brain is much like a computer. It just enacts whatever programming has been put into it.

Like a computer, it also doesn’t delineate between good and evil, positive or negative, right or wrong.

Your brain simply does whatever you tell it to do.

And it believes whatever you tell it to believe.

Which is why self-talk matters.

And it matters gravely.

Because what you tell yourself about yourself is what eventually becomes true for you.

And if you’re like most people, you probably don’t even monitor the things you say about your own life.

Or if you do, you might think the whole concept of self talk is hokey- but it is not.

You are the author of your own life.

You dictate who you become by allowing certain thoughts to reprocess over and over and by disallowing others.

Your beliefs are not based on what is fact as much as they are based on repetition.

Just ask anyone who found out later in life that they were adopted, or discovered that a family legend never really happened. Or ask anyone of the millions of people who use to believe the world was flat, the sun revolved around the earth or that air travel was impossible.

They all had things in their mind that they “knew” for sure were true.

Until one day they found out they weren’t.

Similarly, you have beliefs about your own life that you accept as truth that aren’t really true or unchangeable. You have beliefs about what your capable of, what is possible for you, what you’re good at, and who you’re destined to be.

And whatever those thoughts are will determine your limits.

They will determine your happiness.

And they will determine your path.

So choose the words you use to describe yourself carefully.

You can’t call yourself fat and think it’s going to help you get in shape.

You can’t say you’re terrible at something and think it’s going to make you better.

You can’t tell your mind that you don’t deserve something and think it’s going to ever show up for you.

Because your brain will believe whatever you tell it to believe. And it will lead you to arrange your life in a way to allow for those beliefs to take shape as your reality.

So retire your self-limiting beliefs.

Destroy your old boundaries.

Let go of the negative things you were yesterday.

And rewrite your future.

Reinvent your possibilities.

And redefine the person you are becoming.

Do that now and never stop.

Managing Team Turbulence

managing team turbulence

AJ and I recently got a chance to tour the US Naval base in San Diego CA.

One of the highlights of the tour was the helicopter rescue team.

Managing Team Turbulence

They told us stories of diving into the water out of mid-air, open ocean swim rescues, and navigating sea crash landings.

One particularly interesting fact was that our guide – an 18 year vet – explained that the helicopters are “designed” in such a way that the moment they lift off they are trying to tear themselves apart.

All the parts start moving away from each other.

It’s literally the centripetal force of the blades moving in all different directions that test the strength of the chassis as it pulls and torques on every nut and every bolt. Yet it is that dynamic that gives the helicopter the very energy it needs to take flight.

Thinking back on it later I was thinking how that is actually a pretty accurate analogy for how great teams work.

We often talk about teamwork as this glorious, synergistic alignment of people moving seamlessly and effortlessly in the same direction. Almost as if we gallanting together on a harmonious jaunt through the field.

At least that is how I’ve often pictured perfect teamwork in my mind based on how it is described.

But as I’ve gotten more experience working in teams, I think that is a bit of a naive and unrealistic facade.

The reality, at least for me, is that great teams have incredible tension. There are often competing forces and diametrically opposed opinions on what should be done. Regularly, there is friction between team members and even strategic plans.

But somehow, at least for us, it has been those perfect imperfections that have caused us to fly.

It’s not been through the amicable indifference of mutually agreeable conversations that’s made things happen.

Quite the contrary rather, it’s been the heated debates, the spirited discussions, and the respectful but passionate disagreements that litter the history of Southwestern Consulting.

One of the things that is most unique about our team is that there is no boss; there isn’t really even any kind of hierarchy.

We don’t have a CEO or a President. We don’t have one person who has the final say. We don’t even have people whose votes count as more than anyone else’s.

There is instead only a “knights of the round table” as we like to say.

And anyone in our company can earn a seat at the head table through consistent top performance, unconditional commitment, and creative thought leadership.

And it is at that table of Partners where we discuss, dissent, and disagree. But we never discourage.

It is similar to the blades of the helicopter that pull in different directions yet work together and are still held together by something central that creates the lift.

So if you’re team isn’t perfect…

If you don’t always agree…

If you don’t always align…

If it sometimes seems like you’re moving in different directions…

Maybe it isn’t bad after all.

Maybe you just have a team of people who care deeply about where the team is going and about keeping the team elevated.

Maybe it is those forces that sometimes appear to be conflicting, that are actually holding it all together.

Maybe that team turbulence is simply a matter of perfect imperfection.

The Self-Confidence Shield

Self Doubt

It’s easy to be offended when people say mean things about you but here’s why you never should:

When people say mean things, it’s ALWAYS out of an insecurity about themselves.

People who are confident in their own identity are never compelled to attack others.

There is no reason to. Because what do they have to gain?


The value of attacking someone else is that it elevates your impression of your own superiority.

By pushing them down, it pushes us up – at least that’s what we think.

But when someone is at peace about who they are, where they stand in the world, and what they have to offer, they don’t need to push someone else down.

Because their self-worth is not dependent or in relation to those people that are around them.

Their self-worth is intrinsic and independent of other people.

Which is another reason why you really shouldn’t be offended very often. If you’re truly comfortable with who you are, then what other people think of you has little to no impact on you.

It’s different if someone is giving you feedback. But feedback is delivered objectively, unemotionally, and supportively with an intent to lift you up. That’s worth listening to.

But criticism is delivered with bitterness, aggressiveness, anger and resentment. It’s delivered with the intent to push you down.

And that’s not worth listening to because that is almost always more of a reflection of the person delivering it than it is of you.

What Trust Is


People will do things that hurt you.

And in spite of what you think to be true of yourself, you are going to do things that hurt other people – even if it’s inadvertent.

Other people hurt us and we hurt them because we are human. We are flawed.

So how do we maintain trust with the people around us when we are always hurting one another?

It’s simple.

We have to understand what trust is and what it isn’t.

Trust is not necessarily believing that every single thing someone says is precisely accurate – although it’s safer if we strive for that.

And trust is not necessarily based on having a relationship with someone who has never made a mistake or who has never told a lie.

Trust is choosing to believe that someone is doing their best to do the right things even in the midst of difficult situations.

Trust is choosing to believe that the people around you are doing their best to operate with integrity despite complex situations.

Trust is believing in those around you. It’s assuming the best about them and not the worst, even if it looks like there is reason not to.

Trust shouldn’t only be given to perfect people; it should be given to anyone that demonstrates a desire to find truth. It should be given to anyone who attempts to live in truth, and who apologizes honestly if they are confronted about some how falling out of truth.

The good thing about doing that is hopefully they will extend you that same benefit of the doubt when you need it.

Because at some point you will.

We all fall short.

We all have blemished track records.

We all hurt each other.

We all exaggerate the truth and expand the story at times.

We have all withheld information to varying degrees.

So you can extend grace and trust to the people around you even if they aren’t perfect and if we’re all lucky then maybe…

Just maybe…

They’ll do the same for us.