In any conflict you have a choice...reflect what the other person is trying to convey or project what you think they are saying.
One of the main skills I teach in my Clearing Conversations is reflective listening. It's cumbersome, awkward, repetitive. It's the first stages of empathy. Why is it so hard? Dropping our own story and actually "getting" the other person means dropping our defenses. Why? Because we want to defend ourselves. Their reality cannot be true because that would mean I would be wrong.
What usually happens before my clients are in my office is a reflection of judgments, interpretations, and projections. They are trying to fill in the gaps of unknowing, ambiguity, confusion. I'm not saying they cannot be somewhat correct, but they are not the whole picture.
What's wild, is in every conflict, both parties think the same thing about the other person. The other person is lying, I feel disrespected, they are crazy. Most of the time they are both saying the same exact thing to me about the other. That is the power of projection.
My advice to get out of this loop: One person (usually best if it's the least triggered person if you can determine that) chooses to drop their story for a few minutes and get curious about what the other person is experiencing, then something can change.
HOW? IT'S NOT EASY
1) Drop your defenses. Stop defending yourself. This can be the scariest thing in the world, especially if someone is accusing you of something that goes against everything you believe yourself to be.
2) Get curious. Set your ego aside, set your story aside, set what you know happened aside and just fully listen and fully get what the other person is saying. They are desperately trying to tell you something. What is that?
3) Actually listen. Even when it goes against everything you know keep listening. It's so easy to react to false information. It's so easy to become consumed with fear or rage when we hear people's perceptions.
4) Reflect what they say back to them. This process of reflecting is cumbersome but really crucial. It helps you to paraphrase back what they say, helps them to know you got it, and helps you to see where it's hard for you to listen to what they are saying.
5) Ask if you got it. You can ask them if you actually got everything they were saying. Sometimes we block out information that is important.
6) Switch. Do this process until they feel fully gotten. Once they say yes, they've been fully gotten, switch. Ask them if they are ready to hear your side and ask if they can offer you the same kind of listening. What this does is helps set up a clear framework for also getting some understanding.
This is not easy stuff. Practicing this with small issues will help you do this on your own with bigger issues. With your biggest issues you can find someone like me to help with the process.
Good luck everyone!