Conflict Resolution, Take Two!

by Megan M. on June 13, 2007 · View Comments (Blog) |

Conflict Resolution—Usual Error Workshop Extraordinaire!—happened at the end of May, and did I blog it promptly afterwards?? Did I?? These poor lonely notes have been languishing in my moleskine for weeks. It’s so sad!

Conflict Resolution is the first workshop that I decided was absolutely, positively, no-contention tax deductible. For obvious reasons! And although since then I have come to feel that all these workshops are overwhelmingly valuable in business, conflict resolution really is a biggie.

This being the second workshop that I got to attend for the second time, and being that I have plenty of notes I did not share publicly the first time, there will be quotes. I hope you like them. They’re pretty and blue! (At least until I redesign this site again.)

…My work lately has been confrontational, and stressful, and I’ve had a hard time dealing with it. All of their points were incredibly pertinent and immediately applicable to me. It was an astonishing feeling to have so many answers so quickly. I always feel this way when we see Pace and Kyeli and Sera, but tonight, especially so.

I haven’t quite gotten the knack of avoiding all confrontation in business. (This is a joke, and somewhat sarcastic—those of you who spend very much time in any kind of business ought to understand.) Business as a concept is confrontational. If you’re lucky enough to be unique enough, creative enough to have little confrontation in your day-to-day business pursuits, you are still in a situation where your business confronts traditional stereotypes. Hell—if you’ve managed to sidestep all of that, you are most likely confronting yourself, your preconceptions, your upbringing, others’ expectations of you, what you want, what you have, who you are! And confrontation, whether we like it or not, often results in conflict of one kind or another.

The only way out is through.

…The only way out is through—as in, there’s no use trying to escape back the way you came, it won’t help! I used to encounter this all the time because the word “talk” was actually “Talk”… My first Big Scary relationship was notorious for avoiding real communication, and even when I got into my really nice, comfy, fabulous relationship, we had to work awhile to get to the point where we could talk and it didn’t have to be spelled with a capital T. (Now, incidentally, we have many marvelous and varied communication conversations!)

Setting it aside, forgetting about the problem… these aren’t solutions. What is useful is to pause and come back to it later—but for this to work, you must actually come back to it later.

Something I didn’t think of earlier, while I was taking notes, was that this point is at the root of my big pet peeve in communication. It really bothers me when there’s something going on… some… Issue… and one person decides to forget all about it and pretend it didn’t happen, even though it’s obviously a problem. It’s not that they have processed it and come to the end of it. It’s that they’re ignoring it and expecting everyone else to do the same. Oh, how that irks me! I can’t stand it! It’s so upsetting! (Sensitive Megan!)

The William James Threshold.

…This threshold, this is how long it takes your body to understand that it’s okay to NOT be angry or upset or scared anymore. Your brain and your body have to communicate appropriately and sometimes your body just doesn’t get the hint! …Sometimes when we’re still feeling physical anger with no reason for emotional anger, we find reasons for more emotional anger! Eek! And here is where these beautiful people declared to us a wonderful thing, this thing that is THE MYTH OF RATIONAL BEINGS. In THE MYTH OF RATIONAL BEINGS, we believe that human beings are rational, should be rational, should never be irrational. We believe that the ideal, perfect state of a human being is sanity and logic and rationality. But that’s not true!! We are made of meat!! We are not machines! And this was a GREAT revelation for me because I have known it all along, and it’s so easy to forget! Why am I always beating myself up about being flawed? We’re all fucking flawed! We’re not machines. We are made of meat. Meat! It is THE MYTH OF RATIONAL BEINGS.

omg. i love it so much.

This point always makes me wonder how prone I am to make up reasons to be angry. I know that people in my family sometimes do this, and I’m sure I’ve done it in the past. But when you’re actually angry, it’s sometimes hard to pin down whether or not your reason is valid! And rather often, reasons to be angry will pile up and fall over—which makes that even harder.

Thing No. 12,302 of which I need to be constantly reminded…

The Lollipop!

…The whole point of the Lollipop is that we have a choice as to how we see the circumstances we’re in. I can be sad about what I don’t have, or I can be gleeful about what I do have. We never think we have that choice, but we totally do.

The lollipop point is about attachment to expectations and your perceptions thereof. You can get the whole lollipop, you can get half the lollipop—and in both cases it can be given to you or stolen from you at various points in the story. But when you analyze the bare benefit of the situation, you’re always left with the boring fact that you had a whole lollipop or half a lollipop in either case—the only thing that changed was your expectation of what you were going to get.

People keep holding onto a past that doesn’t exist. We live right here. (This makes me wonder—James, are you anti-Zen? Or the opposite of Zen?)

Something else that came up this session in the discussion of the lollipop was that, as Pace suggested, one may be unattached but still care. I am still not sure how I feel about this. We talked about attachment becoming a hindrance, and the universe knowing better, often, than we do. (I think some of the things Kiki wrote awhile back made me think of this.) And attachment to what you think you need may bungle up the universe’s awesome plans!

I want to think about this more—from an “obsessive” standpoint, from a more Buddhist standpoint. This is interesting.

“What do I get out of being right?”

Have you ever asked yourself that question?

Start asking, man.

Don’t do stupid shit just to be right. It’s dumb. (Also, this ties into accepting yourself, forgiving yourself, and remembering that you’re made of meat…)

Mirroring. | .gnirorriM

Especially in IM but also in conversation, I am constantly—constantly—checking and rechecking myself to make sure I am processing the same meaning that the words of the other person were meant to have. We jump to conclusions without even thinking about it! We translate and garble and it’s a mess! I vowed long ago to take people at their word—they’re big boys and girls and can communicate what they need all by themselves—and that’s part of this.

The funny thing about mirroring is that we’re all using fun house mirrors—even when we know we’re mirroring, even when we think we’re spot-on. But if we know this, if we remember it… we’re that much closer to getting it right.

Aikido in everyday life.

…The best bit was Aiki, at the end—resolving a conflict with compassion instead of various other things, facing in the same direction as your attacker and moving in their direction, which totally confuses the hell out of them because how often do people do this!? and then defuses the situation in most cases, because you are genuinely concerned with hearing the person, finding out what’s going on, getting to a solution that benefits everyone as much as possible.

I had an odd Aiki-like incident this last week. It was weird but good but also weird. I like these concepts a lot, and I read Aikido In Everyday Life and enjoyed it quite a bit, so if this sounds neat to you, definitely pick it up. (I think I will again, just to understand it more clearly…)

And they mentioned also, which is important to me because I second guess everybody, that Aiki is NOT about beating yourself up over whatever you did to upset the other person—it’s about wanting to meet in the middle, wanting to be on the same team. Furthermore, it doesn’t work unless it’s from the heart…

Like the last time we covered Conflict Resolution, we watched examples and then stood up to try it ourselves. Watching people fight is fun! Ha ha!

Look, all my notes on Conflict Resolution!! I’m so proud of me. Thank you for reading. :}

  • Lynn
    Great summary!
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