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.
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.
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
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.