Posts Tagged ‘conflict’

The Importance of Describing Behaviour

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Today we have another guest blog, which I really like.  Jo Berry reminds of the power and importance of our language in avoiding conflict and resolving issues 

I have been working in the world of conflict transformation and communication and have been understanding how I can challenge behaviour so that I have most chance of being heard. So that the ‘other’ will most likely want to change their behaviour which I am finding difficult.
I know when I label someone as a bully, bad, stupid, their immediate response is to be defensive or to attack. I do that as well.
When I describe the behaviour and share the effect of the behaviour on me, then the person has a choice to change and also will understand exactly what it is they are doing that is upsetting me. Our relationship may even be deepened through transforming this challenging situation.
I was at a conference yesterday and there was a group there who were using the language of blaming. I noticed how they were attached to being ‘right’ and making everyone else ‘wrong’. They were labelling some behaviour as justifiable and the rest as demonic. The effect was a huge chasm opened up between them and others. I left early so I am writing now on how we can move on together.
I have come to know that in difficult situations I can be violent, be unkind and hurt others. I know that when I empathise with others I realise that if I had lived their life I may have acted in the same way. This was tested recently when I was in Rwanda listening to the story of a Hutu man who had been caught up in the hate ideology and had been violent. After hearing his story I could empathise and see the potential is in all of to be behave in that way.
It is hard and yet possible to challenge behaviour without blaming or demonising. It requires me to give up my righteousness and to want to ‘teach’ the other a lesson. Change happens when we feel good about ourselves. Describing behaviour allows both of us to have dignity.
Change happens when I allow your truth and acknowledge your humanity.
I have a bully in me and that is the part I can change.

Learn more about Jo and her work here

The Power of asking for what you want

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

I took my son to the cinema yesterday.  We had a good time, saw a great movie, but on coming out he discovered that his best trousers were covered with chewing gum.  He was understandably upset but going to walk out of the cinema.  I said “Wait a minute..” and went up to the first cinema employee I could see.  I explained the situation, and he was polite, apologetic and efficient.  They had a procedure for dealing with this and all he had to do was take it to the dry cleaners, and if that didn’t work, they would replace them…  Simple and easy. 

He said that he felt awkward and anxious about speaking out, and yet it couldn’t have been easier.  He was avoiding a confrontation that didn’t exist.  I explained to him that it was important to tell people what you want, especially if you are paying them for something.  If they get unpleasant, you have a choice whether the issue is worth fighting for or not, but always, always tell them what it takes to make you happy.

A few days ago I wanted to write the story behind Harlequins amazing success this season after having been relegated a few years ago, and needed access to the people who were behind it.  I reached out and asked a few people and am meeting one of the key people on Monday.  Today, I was talking to the technical support of our router supplier and they wanted me to send it back to them (at my cost).  I said that wasn’t the kind of service I expected from a firm like theirs and they then offered to send out a replacement immediately, with a prepaid envelope…Simples!

We often seek to avoid conflict unnecessarily and end up feeling resentment without even letting them know we have an issue.  If you are asked “Is everything alright?”  and you offer a bland “Fine..”, what can you expect if they believe you? 

“We are Divine enough to ask and we are important enough to receive.”   Wayne Dyer

“First ask yourself: What is the worst that can happen? Then prepare to accept it. Then proceed to improve on the worst.”  Dale Carnegie

What value are values?

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

I was working with a long standing client today and we had to make some decisions that were both commercially and morally challenging.  They had to decide where they were going to draw up the boundaries on what behaviours they accepted from their staff.  There were two or three related issues that were very definitely ‘grey’ areas.  Where did one draw the line?  How much weight did one give expediency, commercial profit, reputation???

I said to them “Before we begin, lets revisit the company values we drew up a few years ago and check that you still feel they are right for your business, because if they aren’t we should change them, and if they are, we should apply them to this situation.”  I was told that they not only still thought they were right but they regularly tested their actions against them.  It was so refreshing to hear of a company that actively tried to live its values.  I can’t say that I come across it very often.

We then used these values to help us make some tough decisions, but it was a much quicker and easier conversation than it might have been.  It was a great example of their value if correctly applied.

There was a tension been two of the values of Commercial & Professional behaviour but that is fine.  Their job was to decide how to balance these in the best possible way, but our decision today has helped give life to the third value of Transparency and makes it much easier for the staff to know what is okay and what isn’t.

Do make explicit use of use of values in your business and if so, how have they helped you?

“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”   John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“A new way of thinking has become the necessary condition for responsible living and acting. If we maintain obsolete values and beliefs, a fragmented consciousness and self-centred spirit, we will continue to hold onto outdated goals and behaviours.”    Dalai Lama


Sunday, January 18th, 2009

I have talked in the last two days about conflicts and reconciliation.  Both are linked by trust, or its absence.  If you can find no grounds for trust then reconciliation is very hard if not impossible.  When trust breaks down, conflict often results.

So where does trust come from?  We tend to trust things and people that we can understand or are like us, hence the power of the ‘old school tie’ or belonging to the same club or even gang.  It follows that if we don’t come from the same background, or if we don’t know much about the other, the first thing is disclosure so that one can try to build common bonds based on shared experiences.  Sometimes we need to look at quite basic links; in Northern Ireland, during the troubles, mothers on both sides of the divide found commonality in wanting to protect their offspring.

The next component is to be predictable, to do what you say you will and to behave in a way consistent with the information that you have disclosed.   If I get bitten every time I poke the dog with a stick, I might not like it, but I know where I stand; the reverse is also true, if I behave well and get rewarded by getting a positive response back then there is something I can work with and trust.

When we look at behaviour that doesn’t make sense to us it is usually because of missing bits of information the other party holds, and these are often how we feel about what is going on.

How do you feel about trust and what can you do to build more trust in the world?

Prayer of Trust

“MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” Thomas Merton