Posts Tagged ‘conflict resolution’

March 9 Daily Quote

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

One advantage of marriage is that, when you fall out of love with him or he falls out of love with you, it keeps you together until you fall in again.
Judith Viorst

It is a true fact that marriage is an uphill – downhill type of thing. At any given point in time, one spouse or the other is wondering why on earth they got married. Luckily, the opposite spouse is usually feeling grateful to be with someone. Sometimes, both of you are wondering what on earth you have done so it’s nice to know that laws require you to think before divorcing. What makes marriage truly wonderful is that – once in a while – both of you remember what it was that made you fall in love in the first place. And you remember it at the same time. Those are the times for celebration!

Smile and Say Nice Things!

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Smile a lot and say nice things! It might be a good way to make a friend out of that grouchy person in the office who can’t see any good in you. It might even turn an enemy into a friend. Recently our granddaughter was having some issues with another little one on her team. I don’t know the family but I’m guessing the little one is an only child. I’m guessing that because she acts a lot like our granddaughter who functions as an only child at our house. She’s a cute little girl with an attitude that says she’s entitle to love and affection from everyone just as any queen should be. Needless to say, two little girls with that attitude on the same team might tend to clash. I had tried conflict resolution suggestions with our sweetheart but it was just not a concept she could embrace. So we decided to work with her on making friends. She agreed to try. Her first try was to tell the little girl she liked her pony tail. She ran to the stands to inform us that it hadn’t worked. The girl still didn’t like her. We urged her to try again so her next compliment was on how nice the little girl’s shoes looked. Again she returned to the stand to inform us that this hadn’t worked either. I pointed out the usual, old-fashioned mother statement “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. This particular saying annoys her (mostly because she hears it so often) but she made another attempt. This time she complimented the little girl on the pretty t-shirt under her jersey. Failure! On her return to the stands, grandpa suggested complimenting her on her hair. I started to explain that she had tried that idea with the pony tail compliment but the little one was already on her way back to the team. She came speeding back to the stands to report, “I think it’s working! She smiled!”

I’m thinking it would work for adults as well. As females, most of us still carry a little bit of that “I am a princess and should be treated as such” attitude. So let’s use it to our advantage with the other females we deal with daily. That supervisor who nitpicks every little thing you do would certainly have a softening of her attitude if you thanked her for helping you improve your work performance. You may not feel thankful but fake it! If you feel your mother never stops criticizing you, send a few compliments her way. Maybe she’ll improve her attitude towards you once she feels more appreciated. And don’t give up after the first try. Behaviors that have been ingrained in people will take some time to change. Families are especially good at building up walls. Breaking them down may take time but it can be done. Working at building congenial relationships with those around us will lower stress levels which will improve our environments and may even have some health benefits as well. Start right now. Turn to the person next to you, smile and say something nice.

Conflict Resolution

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

We are almost halfway through basketball season. Three cheers!  I couldn’t be happier. The basketball league which our little girl attends has just 4 teams of 6 to 7 year-old-girls. Since the girls at this age only play half-court, all the games are played at the same time. Every Saturday morning at 8 a.m. Did you know that there are some parents who actually think this is okay? Writing until 2 a.m. is my normal schedule so mornings are an unfamiliar scene for me. Especially mornings before 10 a.m. I arrive every Saturday morning with whatever caffeinated drink I have chosen and watch bleary-eyed as the other parents happily chat with one another. My brother and sister (the most committed aunt and uncle of all time) arrive as well with noise-makers! The combination of cowbells and caffeine usually keep me awake through the game but I spend the rest of the day walking around in a haze. The end of the season is coming! I can see it out there. I can hardly wait.

Another reason for the excitement is the fact that our little team of girls are doing an excellent job and proving to be the winning little girls we knew they were. You would think that this would be a reason for me not to want the season to end. You would be wrong. You see, little girls live in a world of perpetual competition. And, being little girls, they tend to be a little bit uppity about things when they discover that they are better than the others. In doing this, they fall short of the ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’ that I like to see in my little one. Practices have become an exercise in restraint for me. I am not the coach. I can not go out there and insist on appropriate behavior or hand out a few time-outs to a few not-so-sweet little things – one of whom is my granddaughter. I have to admire the coach. He just ignores all the little squabbling and moves on to the game of basketball which usually de-fuses the current argument started because someone made a snide comment about someone not being able to hit the basket which escalated to comments about who was prettier, who had nicer hair, whose shoes were the nicest and who didn’t have a hair band to match their jersey. Eventually all this competition degenerates into name calling and tears. On the trips home, I spend our time together patiently trying to explain tips on conflict resolution to a hyperactive 6-year-old. None of those discussions have been successful in any way.

I realized tonight that my whole approach has been wrong. I can’t teach my granddaughter enough conflict resolution techniques to ever stop the conflict. From now until forever she is a girl and girls will always be competing for something. Who does their make-up best, who accessorizes their clothing best, who has the most desirable boyfriend – these competitions will always be with us. What I really need to do is teach her how to make friends. I’m not saying that girls who are friends won’t be competing with one another. They will but the competition will be less intense. So I am grateful to Gretchen Rubin who wrote an article for Huffpost Healthy Living called Balanced Life – 8 Tips for Making Friends. The tips she gave were directed towards adults but I found a couple of little gems that will be wonderful for every age. Simply stated they are ‘Say nice things about others and smile a lot‘. Love it! What a great plan. Walk in the door with a smile for everyone and say nice things to each of them. Can something that simple work to lower the competitive level? I think it could! I’m going to suggest the little one give it a try at her next practice. I’ll let you know if it works. If so, you can use it for the conflicts in your life as well. And thanks to you Gretchen Rubin for the great ideas.

Heretic, Rebel (Teenager?)

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

He drew a circle that shut me out. Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win; We drew a circle that took him in.–Edwin Markham

When that 6’4” rebel was just 3’ tall, it was so much easier to draw the circle that brought him in. You told him ‘no’. He couldn’t play out front without adult supervision. He crossed his little arms and stood glaring at you, letting you know how angry he was. All you needed to do was take a couple of steps forward and find that ticklish spot on his tummy. Laughter replaced the defiance. He was your sweet lovable little guy again. But time has passed. He’s grown not only in height and strength but in stubbornness as well. He has a sense of himself now and he is determined to make his own decisions. Unfortunately, his growth hasn’t yet extended to wisdom. Some choices he makes are ones you are going to have to oppose. So he crosses his arms and glares at you. He’s outgrown the desire to stand there and wait for you to make it right. And, frankly, tickling his tummy isn’t going to work anyway. He marches into his room and slams that door with a firmness that lets you know you aren’t welcome to follow him. If he lives at my house, he isn’t going to be allowed to lock you out. But the better part of wisdom keeps you from following him. You know this son of yours is playing the part of the heretic. He’s drawn a circle to shut you out. If you follow him blindly without a plan, he’s going to keep that barrier up no matter what you do or say. (Of course, you might get lucky and stumble across the key to breaking the barrier but it’s not likely.) You need a plan.

First, decide to love him. Right now he’s not all that lovable and you don’t have any discernible warm and fuzzy feeling towards him. You may have to get firm with yourself but make that conscious decision to love him. Second, choose not to give up on him. Having a rebellious teenager can give you urges to make some really bad parental decisions. There’s the ‘Fine! Go hang out with your drug dealing buddies. You’ll learn when somebody OD’s!’ When you’re angry, you might be tempted to blurt that out. Bite your tongue! Another common way to give up is to send him to live with his father (or grandparent, or uncle or anyone. Just get him out of my house!) Don’t!!!! The decision to move him out should not be made in anger. Third, formulate the plan. The plan has to involve some way to draw him in lovingly while still keeping him ‘on the straight and narrow’ (as my mother used to say).

You have the option to modify his plan so that it becomes acceptable to you. Or you have the option of offering him an alternative plan. If you can use either of those options, go to his door and knock gently. Let him know you would like to talk to him. In a non-confrontational way say “I know that you want to __________. I’m not comfortable with that because ________. I would be okay with your plan if you would ________. “ (or ’I would prefer that you do _______ instead”). The fact that you are seeing his side and trying to compromise will help release the anger he feels much like tickling his tummy used to do. Things get a little more complicated if your child’s plan actually involves hanging out with drug dealers or doing something else that puts him in harms way. There simply is no way to compromise or modify plans of this kind. You still need to let your son know that you understand how he feels. Everyone needs friends. It’s those particular friends you can’t approve of. Everyone needs to have a fun time out once in a while. It’s just that particular activity you can’t allow. Drawing the circle that brings him in requires his participation so ask him what he thinks he can do. Does he have other friends? If not, are there activities that he likes that would get him involved with other teens his age. For instance, local sports of some kind or church related activities or 4H groups or maybe even getting a part time job. Ask him if one of those options would appeal to him. If it’s the activity he wants to be involved in, it’s time to have him think of other activities he enjoys that can replace the dangerous ones. In any case, letting him know you understand and will work with him will help release his anger and rebellion. He may need to sleep on your suggestions. A follow up conversation the next day may be required. Keep working to tear down that barrier he thinks he wants to build. A loving relationship with you is his best defense against an unforgiving world.

Draw that circle!

Wedding Guest Dilemna

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Q:I am a sophomore in college this year. I have been staying with my father this summer. I have mostly lived with him as I have been growing up. He has had a lot of different girlfriends, some who have lived with us, and two that I have close relationships with. I am getting married next summer and want to invite some of my father’s old girlfriends to the wedding. His new girlfriend, who is almost my age, is really upset. My father hasn’t said  much. Do you think I should?

A: I think that this is your wedding and the people that have been close to you should be invited to help you celebrate this occasion. If your father objected to his old girlfriends attending you might want to give it further thought. After all, your parents are the ones who have always had your best interests at heart. They are also the ones who have been with you all your life and will continue to do so as long as they live. Since he doesn’t seem to be objecting, I would say go ahead with your plans to invite whomever you choose.

Replacing Random Dishes

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Q: Our whole family got together at my mother’s house for dinner recently. She is getting up in years and likes to have the family together as often as possible. While I was cleaning up, I dropped one of her ‘good’ china plates and broke it. These so-called china plates are actually plates she bought from Kmart when my brothers and I were younger. But they are her ‘good’ dishes and she pulls them out whenever she has company. She’s all upset because she no longer has a service for twelve which she needs when we all get together. Kmart no longer sells this particular set. I can’t find any reference to them on the internet. Do you have any suggestions on how to replace a random plate?

A: My first suggestion is to just get her a different set of plates. Since she isn’t asking for actual china plates, it can’t be too expensive to find her another set of ‘good’ dishes. However, if she’s getting up in years, she may have a sentimental attachment to these dishes. So there are several possible places to look for a replacement. There is the ever-popular garage sale and flea market option. Also, thrift stores are a good place to look for miscellaneous pieces to match your dishes. Another possibility is craigslist. If you haven’t heard of it, it is a nationwide internet list that allows free for-sale ads and wanted ads. Just type in ‘craigslist’ in your search engine and the name of your town for your local ads. You can take a picture of the other plates in your mom’s set and put in a wanted ad. There is no cost and you can continuously update it until you find what you want. You can also check their ads to see if anyone already has a set like this they are trying to sell. I have used this site myself many times and find it to be very helpful.

Unwelcome Visitors

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Q: My mother-in-law is coming to visit. I have a very stressful job and really don’t feel up to company. Especially her. The last time she was here she re-arranged my cupboards. She said they weren’t efficient! I agree they are faster and easier to get to now but it took me almost all year to be able to find things. My husband is thrilled she’s coming so no excuse I can think of will keep her away. Do you have any ideas?

A: I think the real reason you don’t want to see your mother-in-law is that she makes you feel like a child. Telling you how to arrange your cupboards must seem just like your mother telling you how to clean your room. You’re an adult now and interactions such as these can be frustrating. The best way to keep your mother-in-law from mothering you is to keep her busy doing other things. Does she like to shop? Are there nearby local attractions such as aquariums, waterfront areas, specialized shopping? Are there interesting places to take her to dinner (and keep her from doing your dishes!). Get creative. I’m sure there are dozens of things to keep her busy and out of your cupboards.