Tag Archives: conflict

B.U.I.L.D. Better Relationships

In any personal relationship, whether it be a close personal friend, a business contact, or even just someone you encounter on the street, there is a possibility for, shall we say, “differences of opinions.”  When the inevitable interpersonal conflicts come up, how do you handle them?  How do you resolve conflicts and improve relationships?

One simple but extremely powerful technique that I’ve never had fail me or anyone I’ve taught it to is the B.U.I.L.D. Method (originally developed as B.R.I.C.K.S. – I was teaching a group of construction management students).  Years of training and experience in managing conflict, plus a study of human communications and relationships, plus years of (would you believe) martial arts and combatives training, plus an obliging body of scientific research helped bring this method to life.  It is simple, but effective.  Give it a try!


Okay, so I once came across an NLP expert who said this wasn’t necessary, and for only $250 he’d tell you why.  Biology would say he’s wrong, but I won’t go into it.

In this step, pay attention to your breathing.  You don’t even have to take time away from the discussion or situation – it can be done on the fly. Are you holding your breath?  Are you breathing too fast?  Slow and control your breathing.

Often all it takes is one slow, deep breath and you can return to a breathing rhythm that helps you be calm and more focused.  Deliberately keep your breathing slow until you don’t have to think about it anymore.


Let go.  Let go of your position for a moment.  Let go of the need to be right. Let go of the fear of failure. Let go of your ego.  It is really hard to do the next three steps unless you do this one.  Frankly, it is next to impossible to reach a true resolution without it.  If you paid attention to the Breathe step, untethering is much easier.


Invite the other person to engage in a conversation, and invite them to share their perspective first.  The invitation can be through words and/or body language.

For example, make eye contact (as culturally appropriate) and use an engagement phrase such as one of the following.

  • “Let’s discuss this.  What are your thoughts?”
  • “Tell me more about your [thoughts, feelings, etc.] on the matter.”
  • “I’d really like to know more about…”
  • “Help me understand what you mean by…”


Really listen to the other person and genuinely seek to understand.  Don’t be thinking about what your next argument or comeback will be, what you’re going to have for dinner, why they chose to wear that color combination, etc. – focus on the other person.  You can strengthen this step by using connected listening techniques. Listen for not only what they say they want, but why.  What are the underlying values, needs, interests and emotions?  What are they really saying?


Once you have listened to the other person, then you can share your perspective.  Don’t just attack what the other person has said, but explain how you see things and why.  Then have a dialog (not a debate) about the different options that could resolve the situation.  Ideally, you’ll look for options that will address each person’s needs and concerns.


Once you B.U.I.L.D. a positive connection you have the foundation for resolution.  Even if you don’t ultimately agree, if you have put genuine effort into following the steps you can end with a positive note and an improved or strengthened relationship.

What To Do When Your Life Feels Like a Merry-Go-Round

Oh, the Good Ol’ Days

 Do you remember the days when kids were allowed to have fun and playgrounds had merry-go-rounds (at least that’s what we called them)?  I have fond memories of running round and round and round as fast as I could, then jumping on and holding on for dear life as the wind rushed through my hair.  Of course, if I let go the ride was over.  Do you ever feel like that in adult life?  Where the world is spinning round and round and one misstep will send you sliding off into the dirt?

 You Gotta Love Physics

 If you experienced the joys of the merry-go-round as a child, you may have found that the secret to staying on the merry-go-round was to get to the center. Thanks to some cool law of physics, you could sit or stand in the middle and stay safely on the toy, even if you weren’t holding on to anything. It was awesome, right?  Those on the edge, where the centrifugal force was greatest, were the ones who risked falling off.

 You Can Find the Center

 Most people have the experience at some point in their lives of feeling like they are back on the merry-go-round and just trying to hang on.  You may have many things going on at once that push you around for a spin.  Career (push).  Family (push).  Social obligations (push).  Personal goals (push).   Soon you are spinning faster than you would like and trying to hold on.

The good news is that you can find the center and make it much easier to enjoy the ride.  Everyone has their own center.  There are many ways you can get to yours, but I’m going to share just two.

First, Remember to Breathe.  It’s funny how we can take what is normally an automatic bodily function and somehow forget to do it right (or sometimes entirely).  But that is what often happens when we get in stressful situations.  Without getting into scientific details, that is a bad thing.  It impacts our ability to focus and perform mentally, emotionally and physically.   To correct that, try this one simple technique so you can find greater focus and calm.

Breathe in deeply (with the diaphragm – let that belly puff out like a balloon) for a slow count of 7

Hold the breath, experiencing the feeling of fullness, for a count of 2-3

Breathe back out slowly, for a count of 7

Completely empty your lungs and hold that emptiness for a count of 2

Repeat 2-3 times.

How does that feel?

Second, Live by Your Values.  Much tension in life comes when we don’t live according to our core values.  When you do live by your core values it becomes much easier to accept whatever situations or consequences may come.  So, do you know your core values?  Take the time to write them down and honestly examine whether you are living in harmony with them.  Make a list of your ten most important values, then rate yourself on a scale of 1-5 as to how closely you are living them (1 being not so much and 5 being very much in harmony).  Yes, this can be a difficult exercise, but very worth it.  You’ll find that that more you can move those to a 4 or 5 the better able you are do deal with conflict and adversity.  The merry-go-round may spin, but you’ll be safely at the center.

If you found this helpful, please feel free to share.

Have an awesome day!