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Conflict Resolution Tips and Blog

It’s 2017. Are You Ready for Conflict?

At this point in history there is really no escaping conflict anymore. Yes, most of us are avoiders, but we are running out of ways to avoid confronting conflict, because it is the biggest thing in our lives thanks to this election.

As a nation, we are experiencing a split like no other.

Whichever side you come down on I know you feel it. People have been cut off by friends and family. Choosing sides and taking a defensive stand is epidemic. Ultimatums, the silent treatment, defiant pronouncements, arguments, fistfights are all on the rise.

The range of emotions we are experiencing run the gamut of grief, deep sadness, shock, disgust, disappointment, shame, embarrassment, hatred, elation, relief, joy and love. Yes love. Love is still present, but we’ve got to go through conflict to truly experience it. Our hearts will be tested, right alongside our patience and our faith.

But most of all, our ability to respond to conflict rather than react will be challenged over and over again.

Are YOU ready for Conflict, because it is here? Never mind that it has always been by your side waiting.

Now, it is out in the open. No hiding, no pretense and it is no longer waiting for us to decide whether or not to take it on. It will not be silenced by the turning off of the television set or the tossing out of the newspaper or by ducking social media or your family, your neighbors, your boss or your friends.

It is coming to each and every one of us LIVE.

Are YOU ready for it?


Lessons for Getting Along for the Holidays from Carol Brady

The death of Florence Henderson who played one of America’s favorite TV moms comes at a time when America could use some real motherly advice. Just as we managed to get through Thanksgiving, our beloved Carol Brady took her leave. As the mom of a blended family of six children, Carol Brady dished out plenty of life lessons and as America braces itself for the holiday fall-out from the election of a reality TV star, who better than a TV mom to help us learn to turn holiday fears into holiday cheers.

As the Conflict Closer, I help people resolve conflict one meaningful response at a time. So, allow me to mix up my own holiday cocktail with some Carol Brady wisdom.

1. “No problem was ever solved by crawling in to a hole.”

It’s the holiday season. Why ruin it right? Maybe the Thanksgiving attempts to have serious conversation or make peace caused even more stress and strife and you just aren’t willing to go there again. The truth is that as much as we want to avoid conflict by ignoring it, that does not make it go away. It simply makes it go and grow underground where it festers and feeds off of the next perceived slight or misunderstanding.

A meaningful response: Take it one on one. Let one person know that you want to try to talk about one thing that you two are in conflict about and then set a time, place and time limit and have snacks available. (Alice always had some chocolate chip cookies waiting.)

2. “You shouldn’t put down a loser, Cindy, because you might be one yourself someday. Just remember that.”

This election has taken name-calling to the highest percentile and now that it is over, the word “loser” has become a lethal weapon. Maybe your beef has nothing to do with the election and the word “loser” has been preserved for the one who got in the last nasty word. Whatever the case, Mom Brady is right. We all will walk in the shoes of losing at something. The problem with throwing around that word is that it becomes personalized and we mean it to be. Whether we lose a game, an argument or a campaign, it does not make us personally a loser.

A meaningful response: Acknowledge where you are as a starting point for where the conversation can begin, but don’t make it a personal attack. “Trump won, suck it up loser” or “I was right and you were wrong loser” is not going to open the door to conversation.

3. “Don’t play ball in the house.”

Now, she literally meant, do not play ball in the house, because you could break something, which they did. I am taking liberty with it here and saying don’t throw hardballs at each other. Stay away from name-calling and labeling people whether it be statements like “you are so judgmental” or “you are a racist.” Let what they said take a hit rather than the person and then don’t do it in the house. Take it outside if you can. Go for a walk, try to talk one on one privately if it is getting heated. Express to them that especially now with all of the division in our country, you want to make every effort to listen, understand and get along.

A meaningful response: “I really want to talk about what you just said. Can we sit somewhere or take a walk I really want us to understand what each of us is saying.”

4. “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.”

Truth be told this is not a Carol Brady quote. It is Jan Brady’s famous line and my favorite Brady Bunch quote. But even though she didn’t say it, it still applies. When it comes to family, there are often favorites and perceived favorites or “the perfect sibling” or the “loser sibling”. Both are labels that make it hard to get along or to change if the label is attached to you. Jan got tired of hearing about the perfect Marcia. You may be tired of hearing about your “Marcia” or you may be the accused “Marcia.” When conflict happens this type of labeling often adds fuel to the fire. So, do your best not to go there.

A meaningful response: Stick to what the conflict is about but also recognize that the labels may likely be fueling it. Separate the issues from the feelings of resentment for now and offer to meet another time to talk about the underlying resentment.

5. If You Have “Unfriended” a Loved One and Want to Make Amends, Own it and Apologize. This one is all mine. Enough said.

I saw in Carol Brady a woman who did her best to communicate something I believe in strongly, relationships are the foundation upon which we build our lives. They can be fragile, because it takes a lot of work to make them strong enough to support us.

That Mrs. Brady was a lovely lady.


3 Tips For Relieving Stress on Thanksgiving

The country is in a total state of conflict these days. Student uprisings, governors voting to ban the arrival of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in their states, Missouri and Minneapolis rising up and so much more. Well, at least the Kardashians got knocked off the front page for a while.

I believe that we can work through all of this upset one conflict at a time. But today I am swimming in dangerous waters a little closer to home. I’m taking on the relatives and Thanksgiving.

Growing up, Thanksgiving was a time when my family gathered at my paternal grandmother’s apartment after stopping by my maternal grandmother’s in the afternoon. We were the depiction of what was often Round 1 in the fighting that occurs around this momentous event… who is going to host dinner. This is the stuff that treaties were made for. In my family, this was the easy part.

Showing up and lasting till the final round took a lot more stamina. Hunger, alcohol and festering wounds were a Molotov cocktail in the hands of five sisters itching for a fight, one brother and mother who wanted peace and the rest of us who just wanted to eat!

I learned a few things during those years. After spending the past three weeks listening to my clients share their anxious anticipation of in-law, sibling and spouse fights, I feel compelled to share these 3 tips.

1. Have A Stress Plan

My guess is that most of us have a plan for the food, the travel, the seating and even the arguments, but what about the stress? Unlike the stuffing, it doesn’t have to come with the turkey. Make a plan for handling the annoyances and problems that may come with the day. I mean something that’s not illegal. Write it down and then follow it. It could be as simple as making a deliberate time for prayer, meditation, silence, breathing, stretching, journaling or drawing or all of the above.

Start with 5 – 10 minutes the night before and then first thing in the morning. To make it even more powerful keep it going through your day by combining one of these with another task. Try basting the turkey while taking ten 8-second breaths. Incorporating a stress plan could be just the thing to get you through the day still smiling.

2. Visualize A Different Outcome

I put off a recent physical three times because of the difficult conversation I expected and dreaded with my doctor over my recent weight gain. On the day that I convinced myself to go, I decided right before I walked in the door to envision a different outcome. I visualized us having a conversation that involved her listening, respecting and not fat-shaming me and the two of us working together on my plan for better health. That is exactly what happened. I was so impressed that when she told me my blood pressure was too high and she would have to give me additional medication unless it came down before I left her office, I combined visualization with belly breathing to bring it down to normal.

It’s been proven that we get more of what we focus on. So focus on what you want not on what you don’t want. Visualize that conversation with your mother-in-law going the way you would like it to. See yourself staying calm in the moment and BREATHE.

3. Laugh More

Laughter lowers blood pressure and stress levels and there is plenty to laugh about during the holidays. Laughing when something is obviously funny is one thing but finding the humor in the awkward moments is MAGIC. Even if you can’t do it in the moment, engage in a laugh fest later. My youngest son does wicked impressions and his recaps of the day are legendary. He leaves us all in stitches. His special gift is in replaying each of us in our difficult moments and the release of laughter feels good. So laugh, it will be over soon.

Thanksgiving is a short holiday. Be thankful for who you love and who loves you even in their brokenness. ENJOY!