Anything that makes us feel as uncomfortable as conflict makes most of us feel needs to be examined fully and challenged. Yes, I said that two blogs ago and it really is true though counter to our first inclination. If you are like me, your first inclination is to whine “why me?” I know it’s not the best response, but hey, I snap out of it pretty quickly and move in to the work. The work, yes, that’s what we are here to do, but I told you already that it is hard.
Let me tell you the kind of conflict that I am learning from pretty regularly. I have two sons and the youngest is 17. So, I bet you already know where this is going. As you can imagine, my sons are equipped with the skills to engage in courageous conversations and fueled by hormones, intense emotions and a love for straight talk, my 17 year old is a heavyweight champ.
The most frequent conversations tend to play out like this:
Me: (Cringing and holding back my reaction, because I couldn’t even think about talking to my mother like that.) How am I not listening?
Him: I already told you that there is no reason for me to come home before 11 if my friends are staying out later.
Me: I heard that and I told you that we can talk about it, but I am not going to make my decision based on what your friends do.
Him: See, you are not listening. I understand you have fears, but that’s not what you are talking about, instead you are trying to hold me to some kiddie curfew because you had one. This is why I don’t want to talk to you.
Me: Oh God, really? Okay, I’m listening. But I need you to listen to me too.
Him: If we’re going to have a real conversation, fine. Just tell the truth about your reasons.
Me: Fine, and you tell the truth about yours.
Yep, that’s just a taste and the listening and learning continues for both of us, which brings me to the questions that I gave you to do your work of deconstructing conflict.
Here are my responses.
Three Questions for Deconstructing the Construct of Conflict
The first thing I do is interrupt too much. I know it every time I do it and I do it anyway.
The second thing I do is assume the worst when it involves my 17 year old. He’s pretty bold in both reactions and actions so when I do that he picks it up and reacts immediately.
2. Where did I get these thoughts, ideas, reactions or strategies from? Really trace them back.
The interrupting I definitely get from my entire childhood and adolescence. Adults never wanted to hear what I had to say and certainly my mom was chief among the dismissers. Thinking the worst again from growing up with a very fearful mother and father who did not ever see me as maturing and growing.
3. What do I want to change them to?
I am actually catching myself interrupting and sometimes able to catch the urge to interrupt and stop it and continue to listen all the way through the hard stuff. I want to continue to catch the urge and listen longer. I want to continue to work suspending judgement and taking each experience as it comes.
I hated when my parents would tell me that they knew me better than I knew me. That was such bull. They didn’t know my thoughts or what I did out of their sight. So, I don’t want to assume the worst about my son or assume that I know him best.
So… Back to you. Time to do your work. Let me know how it turns out.
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