Many of us know about the power of visualization. In athletics, visualizing is an important aspect of a competitive preparation. Athletes not only play, but also visualize playing and winning during their training. The modern neuro scanning technologies have revealed how visualizing helps the athletes to prepare. Lynn McTaggart in her book The Intention Experiment describes how the brain does not differentiate between the thought of an action and the real action. In an experiment with a group of skiers, scans showed that when they mentally rehearsed their downhill runs, the electrical impulses sent to the muscles were the same as when they physically completed the runs.
Ancient practices, such as some forms of meditation, guide us to create mental pictures of desired outcomes. The controversial Law of Attraction also emphasizes the power of visualization. The Law is based on a belief that whatever we think about and visualize most, will tend to show up, or ‘manifest’, in our lives. When we provide our conscious and subconscious mind with vivid representations of our dreams, we communicate those dreams to our mind, and eventually dreams become reality.
So knowing that, how can we use this powerful concept in relationship management and conflict resolution?
First, we want to expand self-awareness and social awareness and identify very succinctly what we want to change in our reactions to and interactions with others. Then, we can apply visualization in several ways:
See yourself succeeding managing your emotions. Let’s say you know that a certain situation or a person provokes an anger within you and you react by yelling, or by clamming up yet burning with a rage inside. However, you’d like to express your frustration or disappointment in a more constructive way. Visualize expressing your emotions constructively in your trigger situation. For instance, if your colleague is constantly late and you have to carry a double workload until he shows up every morning, visualize expressing your frustration to your colleague in a respectful and calm way
See yourself having critical conversations with others. Talking to others about critical, yet uncomfortable issues is a great strategy to conflict prevention. Let’s say you have been postponing a conversation with your boss about his leadership style, but you know that it is the right thing to do for the sake of your working relationship. Visualize having that conversation in a safe and trusting atmosphere. See yourself leaving the conversation with a feeling of accomplishment and mutual resolution.
Visualize positive experiences with others. Create mental pictures of positive interactions with others – laughter, praise, engagement and teamwork. Let’s say you prepare for a meeting and you expect that the information you will deliver might be met with some resistance by your colleagues. Visualize addressing their concerns in a constructive and caring manner. See in your mind everyone leaving the meeting with positive feelings.
Visualization is a powerful tool in conflict prevention that we can use to build stronger relationships in both our personal lives and workplaces.