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    maria

    I've been meaning to comment on this post since you wrote it, but was in the
    middle of too many things at the time to stop and put my thoughts together, so
    I'm back.

    I'm a #9 (peacemaker) on the enneagram. I abhor conflict. It's actually not so
    much conflict itself, really ... I've become more comfortable with that over the
    years. It's the way in which some people express it that I have a problem with.
    Whenever two or more people are involved in anything, there are going to be
    diverse opinions and viewpoints, and therefore 'conflict' to some degree, but I
    think there are so many more respectful and mature ways to surface it and work
    through it than raising voices, being disparaging, attacking with words,
    storming off, etc. So, while I've grown more comfortable with the idea of
    conflict over the years, if I find myself in a situation where people are
    yelling at each other, arguing, etc., I become really uncomfortable. As I was
    reading about your experience of being an 'observer' on the call with the two
    colleagues, I wondered what I would do, and it was pretty clear I would want to
    hang up, or, if I was feeling particularly 'evolved' that day (which is rare
    :-), I might try to mediate in some way.

    I grew up with my parents arguing a lot. They were no different than other
    couples in that culture ... I figure maybe that was just a cultural thing ...
    vent and get it all out. They've been married 50 years now. I know other couples
    who swear by that 'just get it out' philosophy. If it works for them, I say,
    great, but a big part of me believes that somehow one of the parties is being
    wounded in some deeper way in those exchanges that isn't obvious at first. In
    fact, I'm certain of it.

    So, how interesting that I would end up with a lawyer, huh? Lawyers are trained
    in arguing and conflict at law school. They're trained to win, and they're good
    at words and working with semantics to make their argument, even if they know
    they might be twisting some things around. Well, it was certainly a learning
    experience in our first few months together, to say the least. John is not a
    litigator, and he's really not a lawyer at heart, but that law-school training
    was still pretty deep. Over time, though, after recognizing that our 'style' of
    arguing and resolving disagreements was not productive or effective for us
    (i.e., didn't create the result we wanted, which was harmony and understanding),
    we've learned to develop a way to air disagreements and discuss things in a more
    dialogue-based way, and it makes a huge difference. This was a bigger adjustment
    for him, I think, but one that he's been really good about making. One of our
    cornerstones now are what we call weekly 'board meetings' ... usually on
    Saturday mornings when we wake up early anyway but don't want to get up, we'll
    talk about anything that's on our minds that we didn't have time to discuss
    during the week ... could just be mundane logistical stuff, or little slights or
    disagreements that we don't want to see build up into bigger things. It's good
    ... really works for us. I guess what I'm really saying is that conflict is
    inevitable, but there are a million ways to deal with it, and I much prefer the
    peaceful ways, and being around people who are like-minded that way ... not that
    you can always avoid the 'hot-heads,' but I do so as much as possible.

    Finally, I saw the Dalai Lama live two weeks ago, and his talk was about 'Peace,
    War & Reconciliation,' so this whole topic has been on my mind. He spoke about
    how the only way to have a peaceful world is not only through external
    disarmament of weapons and bombs, but through the 'inner disarmament' in each of
    our hearts and minds so that we're not being ruled by strong negative emotions
    that hurt not only other people, but our own health. To that I say a loud
    'YES!!!!!!' :-). Life's too short to fight, even if conflict does mean that
    something new is trying to emerge. That's a good thing, yes, but it's the 21st
    century and we should be evolved enough by now to give birth to those new
    changes in more healthy ways. I know I'm an idealist and that it is not always
    possible in some situations (i.e., terrorism), but it is possible in a lot more
    of our everyday dealings than we currently see ... in traffic, in lines, in our
    homes, etc.

    Peace :-)

    Carol Ross

    Hi Maria,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with conflict and preferences for dealing
    with conflict. What comes up for me in reading your comments is the importance
    of creating a safe way for conflict to emerge. If there is such a thing as "safe
    conflict" it seems like it would mean that respect for each party is maintained
    throughout the conflict. This goes to your point about how conflict can result
    in inflicted wounds (emotional or otherwise) when safety is not provided.

    I appreciate your insight that situations can be resolved without conflict, most
    notably with a structure like your "board meetings" and by "inner disarmament."
    It strikes me that this requires a certain amount of emotional intelligence for
    small conflicts and an incredible amount of emotional intelligence for large
    conflicts (e.g., lots at stake, emotionally charged.) For some situations,
    especially with dysfunctional groups (I'm thinking of corporate work that I've
    done), that emotional intelligence just isn't there.

    Which leads me to a topic that I've been thinking about recently--meeting people
    where they are. I'll leave that for a future post (maybe even this week!)

    Thanks again for your comments. I always learn something from hearing about your
    experiences.

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