Tag Archives: conflict

Keep your Dance Partner and Avoid the Conflict Dance with these 5 steps

17 Jun

Toe-tapping and ready to groove to the music?  

Intrigued by a dance invitation?

Well, there’s the 2-step, the waltz, and then there’s the conflict dance.

I always say that every conflict starts with an invitation.  An invitation to get all hot under the collar.  The only dance that’s never cool.

better invite dance

It’s a decision.  It takes two to tango and two to argue.

Your partner has an itch – and ‘dancing’ with you will scratch it.

‘K’ told me how ‘B’ filled her dance card:  they were on a nice romantic cruise after a week of travel and conferencing.

‘B’ brought up the money issue with a huffy ‘I spent SO much money on this romantic cruise.’  He talked numbers. ‘K’s toe started tapping itching to rumba through his rumbles.

pointing finger man at woman

After all, ‘No one puts Baby in the corner!‘ How dare he bring up money?

They  talked about the trip’s finances before they left.  She talked numbers.

I broke it to her as gently as I could:  ‘Sometimes arguments about money aren’t about money.  (Of course, sometimes they are…)  

Money is the number one fight between couples and is a leading cause of divorce!

And then I shared my  3 steps to avoid the conflict dance (and appreciate the perks of being a wallflower:

Step 1:  Avoid the seduction and heat of the moment: Recognize the ‘invitation for what it is.  An invitation to fight/argue.

‘B’ knew exactly which of ‘K’s buttons to push to ‘pump up the volume’ so to speak.  In responding, she did exactly what he wanted her to do:  dance back.

Here’s where you decide:  Do you wanna dance?  Especially realizing you’re not going to be arguing about the ‘real’ issue.

(Note:  if you do want to fight just to fight be aware of your motives. We’ve all known couples (in particular) who get into screaming matches that last for days with no end in sight and so hope of resolving the issue.)

woman aghast

Step 2:  Say:  NOTHING!  Especially if you’re also angry, since before you know it you’ll be in a dancing furry. ‘K’ responded in the way most of us would by telling ‘B’ what she had paid for including air fare and hotel.  While this is true, it was just enough to escalate the situation so they were stomping on each other’s toes.

two dancers dise by side

Better is to stop and just think a minute about what you want:  if you want to preserve the relationship:

Step 3:  Listen.  FYI:  Listening will turn the fastest twirl into a seductive slow dance – and here I mean the good kind. Your partner may not have brought up the main issue, but address it respectfully.  Giving someone what they want will ease the path to communication and connection.

Step 4:  Give your listened response – not your high kick (initial) one. Rather than sharing a detailed expense report, ‘

K’s better response would have been: “I really do appreciate this cruise”, or “I really appreciate us being here”, or “Thank you for this great cruise” or something like that.  Chances are this is what she would have said at a later time. This thank you and acknowledgement would have turned off the music to ‘B’s conflict prance. If your partner drops it, let it go temporarily.

relaxed time

If s/he doesn’t, or definitely at a later time:

Step 5:  Bring the issue a little closer and ask for more (info) The issue will come up again (as we all know), so stand on tippy-toes, and in ‘K’s situation ask: ‘You know the other day when you brought up _?  I wonder if we could spend a few minutes talking about money?”

choose how we dance saying

Repeat:  ” I appreciated the cruise (or what you appreciated!) and would like to know more about how you feel paying for it:

Or

“What would make you feel better considering both of our financial situations?’

Or

‘What could we do differently next time that would make you feel better?’

Often, if you are both relaxed at this point, your partner will talk about what the real issue is/was.

In ‘K’s situation, she was talking to me, not ‘B’.  Though she did realize he was probably feeling put off because she had (professionally) spent so much time with  other men during the conference and their travels. As in all conflicts, this one goes deeper…  Next, I’ll share ‘K’ and ‘B’s communication style differences.  I also recommended they go through their values.  It’s all a start – a good start!  And I know they deserve the best.

What causes you to do the conflict dance?

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The slide from disagreement to ‘I HATE YOU’

18 Jan

It happens.  A woman in a recent workshop asked about:

‘Having an argument and ending with saying: ‘I HATE YOU.’

The best thoughts on this slippery, painful, communication slide come from Melissa, a twenty-something middle school teacher outside of Portland, OR.   I’ve never met Melissa, just heard about her response from Laura, a mutual friend about a year ago.  I found this so brilliant it’s been in the back of mind since then.

Here’s the scenario:

Melissa was startled by all the conflict – and resulting tears – amongst her girls.  Best friends one day, declared ‘I hate you’ enemies the next.

So (and here’s the brilliant part):  she ASKED a student proclaiming her hate one day what the deal was.  (forgive the paraphrasing);

‘Do you really hate her?’

‘No’

‘Then what?’

‘I just don’t want to sit next to her at lunch every day.’

‘Then why don’t you just tell her that?’

Problem solved!  (Or for the moment!)  Melissa identified the key to help her student express her true needs, saving the relationship and more importantly teaching her students to say what they mean without being engulfed in the emotion.

joycelyn-ainee.blogspot.com

Wow!  It’s all so simple – yet not.  After hearing this I was reminded how many times I say things I don’t mean, but don’t have the time or where-with-all to stop and think through what I’m feeling, thinking, and what I want.

Of course, at this stage of my life, I usually say nothing.

And that’s no better.  In fact it is worse.

So what’s the key?  Or should I say Melissa’s key?  Good old-fashioned ‘I statements’:

Sharing the facts (using Melissa’s example):  When you sit with me at lunch everyday

I feel:  (ah, the emotions of a middle school girl):  uncomfortable?  unhappy?

And I realize most girls – most people don’t talk like this anymore.  Then again, maybe we need to both simplify and focus our talk for better communication.  

What I want:  To sit with other girls sometimes, and to sit with you sometimes.

Because:  I want to be friends with you and also be friends with other girls.

I didn’t get a chance to share this in the 45-minute workshop with the woman in need.  But over and over I realize how important it is to say what we mean and hope to be heard.  Or rather hope the receiver is open and listening.  And that’s a whole other issue!

I’m going to use this more.  I need to use this more.

What’s your greatest communication challenge?  

Email me at katz.communicat@gmail.com  and I’ll write the anonymous response here!

Here’s to 2013 being a year of saying what you mean when you need to to get what your values met!

Empathy: Be kind

7 Jan

I love this quote, so key, so true of empathy:

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.
by Saint Philo of Alexandria

(and recently read in the book, ‘The other side of the world’, by Jay Neugeboren)

I always think of empathy as the key to connecting and understanding others – and even myself.  While this post is from one of my other blogs:  http://identity5772.wordpress.com, it certainly is essential to communication.  And what’s more fashionable than shoes, but good communication!

Here’s to blister-free walking this week!

Shes!  When did shoes become the go-to destination for journeys to nirvana?  When did well-appointed heels turn cads into princes and transform us plain girls to ‘sex-y in the city’?   Or has footwear always been as important to fashion as the saying: ‘Don’t judge me until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes’  has been to identity and peace?

Does our penchant for buying shoes, amassing Imelda Marcos or Carrie Bradshaw sized collections speak to our need to understand others?   Do new shoes provide  the potential and ability to walk that mile to understanding?

My footwear reflects my soul and mirrors my identity.  My journeys are on

Shoes fit for my very long journeys

foot and I’ve learned the hard way that Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahnik’s derail my  joy into train wrecks.

Footwear can define identity, and, is just as complicated.   I recently told a dear friend, ‘we may wear the same size, but we like and wear very different shoes – literally and figuratively’.

It can be hard to understand someone you love.  Someone  whose footwear appears interchangeable with your own.  Different styles, different

One pre-Xmas night, a group of young men were camped in front of a shoe store on 34th Street in Manhattan. They were spending the night to be first in line to buy the ‘newest’ sneakers. What kind? What did they look like? No-one knew – just that they wanted them.

toes add difficulty relating to the owner of the heart-pumping-blood to those other  toes. As a species focusing on souls, rather than soles, and the miles journeyed, can surely help promote listening, peace and, understanding identity.

Empathy, the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes, to listen for  identity without bias or judgement.   Knowing and doing are two totally different things.

Empathy can improve communication and connection, if that  first giant step is taken:  to understand what someone else is feeling or what they need.

Swapping metaphoric  ‘shoes’:  Would any genocide occur if perpetrators imagined themselves, or their mothers, or wives, or children as victims?  Would they say ‘NO’ to crimes of hate?

This must be a key to peace as I wrote about in my recent post ‘Peace Requires Listening’.

Daniel Lubetzky,CEO of Kind Bars and PeaceWorks remarked (one of) the key to Palestinian-Israeli peace is for Israeli’s to listen to Palestinian needs.  I think a shoe swap and long survival hike might help.

I’ve often found empathy, along with blisters, after finding myself on a path with someone I’ve judged.  ‘Blisters’ force me to slow down, open my eyes, acknowledge the pain.

It’s painful to listen if we are not sure of our identity, or we are not on firm footing ourselves. In Vilna, Lithuania (‘Dinner in Vilna’), Lilly said she was unhappy before she focused her identity and connected with Judaism.

Some say shoe shopping, especially during a sale, is a religious experience. There are other ways to worship.

Empathy.  Walking that metaphoric mile.  Several years ago, I discovered the cure:

Imagine these pills shaped like SHOES: Empathy pills!

A pill.

A shoe-shaped empathy pill.  

Mid-judgement, mid-hate action, a quick pill pop would change everything with, ‘Here, walk a mile in my shoes.  Have an empathy pill.’

As soon as a pharmaceutical company gets back to me, I’ll take your orders.

In the meantime, how has a pair of shoes helped you understand others, or, shaped or defined your identity? 

What leg of your journey has developed your empathy?