Steps to Resolving Conflict

“Sure it hurts, but if you love someone, you forgive them.” Blanche
“Somethings you forgive, somethings you never forgive.” Kate” 

Neil SimonBrighton Beach Memoirs

Recently at Interplayers Theatre, I saw the play Brighton Beach Memoirs by Neil Simon. It was an incredible performance that exemplified the topic at hand – conflict.

The story is about Eugene, an adolescent, Jewish boy in 1937. He recalls his memories of living with his parents, aunt, two female cousins, and his brother at a time when he was going through puberty, sexual fantasy, poverty, and living in a crowed home. In this play, Eugene Jerome, played by Nich Witham, gave an over-exaggerated sense (in a fantastic performance) of not being heard and doing what he could to find his place and get his needs met in this family.

Brighton Beach Memoirs

This play was a great backdrop for me to expound on how to resolve conflict and the pitfalls of communication. Here are some helpful steps.

Clear with this person on an energetic level.

1. Ground your energy. Here is a video that will teach you to do this. http://bit.ly/wBHJbh

2. You have an aura around you which is part of your energetic self.  Imagine pulling your aura in around your body. Pull it in about 6 – 8 inches around you.

3. Focus in your heart and bring your attention out of the top of your head into the heavens.

4. Image the person there with you. At this level, send them love from your heart. You may also imagine sending them golden white Light from your heart.

5. If you can do this without anger or negative feelings, talk with them at this level

6. Come back down, image yourself filling up with golden white Light and release any leftover energy down your grounding cord.

Steps to resolve conflict in person.

1. Write out the situation in your journal and then re-read it the next day. Sometimes it helps to do this a few times, so that you can become clear on what happened and what you want to communicate.

2. Become aware of your own part of the situation, even if you perceive it to be minor in comparison to the other person.

3. If you are angry, look at where you may be feeling hurt or fearful. These emotions are often right under the surface of anger. Feel your feelings and let them go. Journal them over and over if need be.

4. Contact the person you are having conflict with and use clear, direct, honest communication. I suggest you meet in person (not via text or email) because this allows you not only to read the body language, but also to open your heart.

5. Give the other person the chance to communicate their side completely. It is helpful to use the words, “I heard you say,” and repeat back to them what you heard and let them clarify. This helps them to feel heard. You can hear what someone is saying without agreeing with them. It is important that you hear.

6. Once the other person feels heard, share your side. They may not listen well and you may not feel heard. If that is the case use the broken record method. Continue to say the core message again and again, “I hear what you say, and ______.” Yes, that is true, and _______.” Do this until they are able to understand they are not hearing you.

7. Make a request of the person such as “My request is we put this behind us and go on from here,” or “My request is that we continue to meet and talk weekly until we can resolve this.” You can use whatever it is that you desire.

8. Trust your intuition, and use as many of these steps as you would like. If the person is not willing to meet with you or clear the situation with you, then move on and let it go. No longer allow them into your energy field and set healthy boundaries.  (I will share more about this in a future video and blog.)

Sometimes people have a hard time clearing conflict because of negative communication patterns.  Often these reactions were learned in early childhood as a survival response to a dysfunctional family. In this case they may triangle in other people to take sides, or become passive aggressive and rather than talking with you directly, they will be passive in their aggression in a subversive manner.

One of the books I recommend for healthy communication is Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg

You can find other valuable information at http://candesscampbell.com/books/self-help-toolbox


Collapsed, Rigid and Healthy Boundaries

“No” is a complete sentence.”              ― Anne Lamott

Entering into the New Year, we find ourselves getting out more, getting fit, eating better, spending time with old friends, and meeting new friends.  Often though with amazing technology we also connect through our phones and computers, using social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and dating sites.

In my mental health counseling office, recently a client shared with me she saw her boyfriend change his relationship status on Facebook from single to being in relationship with another woman.  A different client shared she couldn’t create a separate email from her husband because he checked her phone everyday to see who she texted and emailed.

A woman I know met a man on line and fell in love. They talked on the phone and Skyped for months and then he had a crisis and needed some financial support. She sent him money and didn’t hear from him again.

These situations lead me to reflect on the impact technology has on boundaries. It appears there is an intimacy created online that is not grounded in reality. Take this opportunity to assess your own boundaries.

Do you have rigid, collapsed or healthy boundaries?

Are you more likely to allow others to cross your boundaries or do you cross others boundaries?

Do you find you get too close to people physically and you see them back away?

Do you find yourself alone in a corner in a group and not reaching out to others?

Note that the way you set your boundaries changes over time. You also may behave differently depending on the situation and how you feel at the time. This is a general guideline you can use.

Collapsed Boundaries can be identified by: 

  • Sharing too much personal information too soon.
  • Saying yes when you want to say no for fear of rejection.
  • Doing anything to avoid conflict.
  • Having a high tolerance for abuse.

Rigid Boundaries can be identified by: 

  • Saying no to a request if it will involve close interaction.
  • Staying so busy you don’t take time for intimate relationships.
  • Being unable to identify you own feelings, wants or needs.
  • Making little self-disclosure and holding people at a distance.

Healthy Boundaries can be identified by:

  • Having the ability to say yes and to say no.
  • Being able to hear no from others and seek other resources to get your needs met.
  • You reveal information about yourself gradually and self-disclose appropriately.
  • You have relationships with shared responsibility for the relationship without blaming.

Check out the full Boundary Self-Assessment.


Commitment

“I mean, if the relationship can’t survive the long term, why on earth would it be worth my time and energy for the short term?” 
― Nicholas SparksThe Last Song

As stated in the last blog, my word for 2014 is Relationships. This year, my commitment is to bring myself closer into relationship with those I love and care for. It also means becoming aware of the relationships that have been dysfunctional and stressful and if possible to ease out of these relationships, making more time to deepen my relationship with myself and with others.

Truly, I understand with relationships there are so many components. There is setting boundariescompromisecompassionclear communicationperspective and the list is nearly endless. In this 30 day Blog Challenge, I will share with you about my process (probably similar to yours,) in the area of relationships.

 Hope you have chosen a word for this year as well. It can be one to focus upon to joyfully bring into your life or to focus upon and create a growth spurt. Music was an expansive word for me in 2013. I welcome Relationships in 2014, to challenge me to grow.


Communication and Whole Brain Thinking

I am honored and delighted to share this interview with Susie Leonard Weller. She shared with me that children mirror their parent’s brain. I am really curious about this.

Susie teaches Life Skills classes through the Institute for Extended Learning, Adult Basic Education program in Spokane, Washington. She received training through Herrmann International in North Carolina. They studied brain research for over 30 years to improve results at Fortune 500 companies. Susie has applied this research to strengthen family relationships. She is now a Certified Thinking Consultant and her book is Why Don’t You Understand? Improve Family Communication with the 4 Thinking Styles

Susie, I am really curious. What is whole brain thinking?

Susie: Thinking styles are innate preferences for how the brain gathers and processes information in distinct ways. It’s part of who we are. Just like we have a preferred hand to write with, we also have a preferred thinking style. We use our dominant hand more often because it’s easier. In a similar way, our brain requires less effort to talk with someone who shares the same thinking style.

Some people are more left-brained and make logical decisions with their head. Others are more right-brained and make relational decisions with their heart or gut instinct. A whole-brained approach integrates both of the left and the right-brain hemispheres, as well as our intellect and heart.

  • No two people are alike. Our brains are wired differently, right from the start.
  • Most family squabbles are linked to biological differences in how we think.
  • The brain requires 100% more energy to think and communicate in its opposite style.

What styles are there?

Susie: There are four main thinking styles. Imagine the brain as a four-room house. The two upstairs rooms concentrate on problem solving or seeking new solutions. These are called the Logical and Creative thinking styles. The two downstairs rooms focus on handling everyday realities and maintaining relationships. These are called the Practical and Relational thinking styles. Although we might prefer spending more time in some rooms than others, those using a whole-brain approach can access necessary skills from any of these rooms whenever they are needed.

Here’s a brief summary of all four thinking styles:

LOGICAL

Focuses on facts
Clarifies the bottom line
Likes to figure out how things work

CREATIVE

Focuses on thinking outside the box
Is imaginative and playful
Like to be spontaneous

PRACTICAL

Focuses on follow through
Organizes things
Likes to plan ahead

RELATIONAL

Focuses on feelings
Is friendly and supportive
Likes meaningful conversations

How is it that children mirror their parent’s brain?

Susie: Babies are born with “mirror neurons.” They copy everything they see. An infant’s brain is like wet concrete. The earliest impressions make the deepest impact. Experience shapes their brain—both positively and negatively. Repeated patterns become hardwired as established neural pathways. Children “download” their parents’ beliefs and behaviors to survive. By the time children are three years old, about 85% of their brain is already wired with subconscious programming for how to relate to others.

What is the best way to deal with conflict?

Susie: Conflict is a given—even within healthy relationships. The best way to handle conflicts is learning how to respect and leverage our differences. Rather than polarizing people into extreme positions, try to hear the need underlying and fueling their behavior. Learn to speak in ways others understand instead of more “loudly” in your preferred style.

Each thinking style has strengths and challenges. Learn to see them as complementary rather than sources of irritation. For example, when Logicals only focus on the facts and minimize the role of emotions, Relationals feel discounted. And, Relationals need to develop a firm backbone as well as their heart. Likewise, Creatives and Practicals can antagonize each other by refusing to accept each other’s desire to explore options or to make timely decisions.

Opposite styles are like oil and vinegar. They don’t mix easily, but they add great zest to a salad. Rather than take conflicts personally, practice becoming multi-lingual and speak in all four thinking styles whenever needed.

The key to managing conflict is finding win/win solutions to meet each others’ needs. Families are 24/7 learning labs to develop life skills—particularly how to communicate with those who think differently than we do.

How can we best set limits?

Susie: In a half-brained world, discipline styles swing from one extreme to another. But, whole-brained parents know how to balance nurture with structure, as well as to play and problem solve. First, they acknowledge the feelings; then they set an appropriate limit. Adults set clear boundaries and follow through on consequences. Wise parents know when to take charge and when to follow the child’s lead to meet their needs for connection.

What could we do to be a wise parent or a wise communicator?

Susie: Under stress, our brain regresses to a more rigid style. To avoid melt downs, learn to practice the Four C’s of courageous conversations. They will soothe the emotional brain to shift gears more easily to use all four thinking styles as needed.

Logical: Clarify a common goal and code of conduct.

Relational: Care enough to seek understanding (not to prove you’re right) and protect the safety zone so that no one shuts down or becomes aggressive.

Creative: Cultivate choices of both/and rather than either/or positions.

Practical: Commit to practicing mutual respect on a regular basis and express at least five positive comments for every negative one. In my book, I also describe the NARN (Notice, Accept, Reflect & Nurture) Process for shifting the brain to a higher gear when triggered:

1. NOTICE what’s happening—physical, emotional and mental warning signals

2. ACCEPT and work with what is, rather than deny or dismiss it.

3. REFLECT on other possible options to resolve this situation or find ways to re-frame it.

4. NURTURE yourself by choosing a concrete action to calm yourself within this moment—breathe deeply, take a break, stretch, listen to music or hum a song.

In our half brain world, more whole-brain families are needed. Our children will face increasing complexities and challenges. As Albert Einstein said, “The problems we are causing can’t be resolved in the same state of consciousness in which we created them.” Our future depends on our ability to use our whole, creative brain to discover new ways to respect how we think, communicate, relate, play and even pray together.

Thank you Susie. This is a good beginning. How can readers get more information?

You can download FREE excerpts from my book by visiting my website: www.susieweller.com

In addition, for those who contact me, I’ll send a FREE 13-page report with 30 tips for how to calm yourself in stressful moments. They are organized by each thinking style to soothe you from head to toe.

Susie Leonard Weller, M.A. for personal coaching

Call USA (509) 255-6676

Email her at weller.susie@gmail.com or visit www.susieweller.com