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spike bullet November 2016 ~ Agree and Disagree in Peace

No One and Nothing is Against You
We Have Choices
Finding the Peaceful Way
Seek to Understand
Agreeing and Disagreeing in Peace
Exercises
Resources (links, books, articles, humor)

color bulletAgree and Disagree in Peace

In the United States, we will elect a new President this month.  The "discussions" leading up to this election have been very discordant. What we can reasonably expect is that one major candidate will win and the others will lose.  What won't change is that the day after the election, we will still have family and friends and co-workers and neighbors who voted for a candidate other than the one we supported. 

How do we work together and continue to relate with those we care about after such seeming wide differences of opinion on what is right for America?  I hope this article will provide some help toward more peaceful relationships.  This article is a refresh of the article from February 2003 ~ Conflict Resolution. 

No One and Nothing is Against You

Author Gary Simmons says, "There is no one and nothing against you" in his book, The I of the Storm.  With that thought in mind, is it possible to understand that WE might somehow be responsible for our interactions with others?  That WE might be somehow responsible for how we react and interact with others?

Conflict resolution skills are desperately needed in many workplaces today.  The world around us is filled with hostility at times, while some of our government leaders seem intent on creating war.  

We Have Choices 

We do have choices in how we handle our own affairs.  We can choose a more peaceful existence.  

This month's article provides tips for handling conflict in peaceful ways.  It also offers tips for taking responsibility for our own individual part in creating, sustaining or resolving conflict.  

If we can understand what parts of ourselves may contribute to creating or sustaining conflict, we can begin to understand what parts of ourselves can also be useful in resolving conflict.

If you can begin to see that your own attitudes, beliefs, prejudices, values, personality and habits may be partly responsible for conflict, you can then begin to adjust what you do, how you do it and who you do it with.  That tiny shift (the beginning), will have ripple effects and start to transform your relationships.

This is not easy work, make no mistake about it.  This work of looking at your own role in conflict requires maturity, patience and diligence to be successful.  It will not happen overnight or all at once.  This is a growth and development process.

Finding the Peaceful Way

If we are willing to understand the other person's point of view, we can find a more peaceful resolution to disagreements.  And, we can gain a broader perspective that helps us avoid conflict in the future.  

For example, when you have a disagreement with someone at work, it helps to put yourself in their place.  

  1. Try to see their job as they see it.  
  2. Try to understand why they might choose to do what they do.  
  3. Try to understand the pressures they face. 
  4. Try to understand how their life experience leads them to their current place.
  5. Try to understand their personality and how that affects their views.
  6. Try to understand their values and beliefs and how they affect their views.
  7. Try to understand why they might believe their viewpoint is right.  

If you do all that, you may find that your disagreement is not so large after all.  

Seek to Understand

If you can talk to the other person, ask them to try "trading places" with you in the same way.  By getting to know each other better, you can build on what you share and can agree on, instead of focusing on your disagreements.  You can come to appreciate how they see the world and they can come to appreciate how you see it.  Together, you can work to solve the real problems not waste your time and energy on your differences. 

When a conflict arises, consider talking to yourself as the other person by trying to understand their perspective.  Make a list of at least a dozen reasons why they might have that viewpoint before confronting them.  When you do talk to them, seek to understand rather than defend your position, prove yourself right or prove them wrong.  Truly listen to why they believe the way they do.  You may learn something very important about them, about yourself and about the situation.  From there, you can both work toward a mutually beneficial resolution. 

One of the reasons that corporate conflicts become more inflamed is the prevalent use of e-mail.  Since it is a very "flat" communication method and prone to misunderstandings, feelings can be hurt, other people can be quickly drawn into the conflict and the misunderstanding can get out of hand very quickly.  

If you feel yourself wanting to "fire back" to a message, try talking to someone who is not involved for a clearer view of what might be happening.  Trust me, I know that's much easier to say than to do.   Still, if you are willing to back away from responding out of anger, frustration, impatience or superficial hurt, your professionalism will improve and your career chances will also improve.  Nobody likes someone who is constantly on the defensive or can be counted on to send messages to a wide distribution list.  

Improving your tolerance, understanding and compassion will improve your health by eliminating those toxic acids that fire up in your stomach every time you get angry or those squeezes around your heart every time you feel attacked.  

If possible, wait 24 hours before responding to a message that you think is somehow attacking you.  Better yet, don't respond at all — hit the Delete key and forget they ever wrote it.  Reaffirm that you have mutually important partnership goals and conduct yourself as if you are still working well together — you may be amazed at the way you perceive the situation.  You may be amazed at how well the other person views you as well. 

Remind yourself constantly  — NO ONE AND NOTHING IS AGAINST YOU

Following are some guidelines for working through disagreements in organizations. 

color bulletAgree and Disagree in Peace

A method for resolving conflict through positive means.

IN THOUGHT

Accept conflict 

1.  Acknowledge that differences of opinion are a normal part of life.

Affirm the truth

2.  Affirm that we can work through our differences to growth.  See conflict as a symptom of what is missing in our understanding of others.

Commit to a process 

3.  Examine where we are coming from and release our need to be right.  Acknowledge all parties have needs and commit to a process to achieve a mutually satisfactory solution.

IN ACTION

Go to the other . . .

4.  Go directly to those with whom we disagree.  Avoid "behind the back" criticism.  Refrain from gossip and "parking lot" conversations.  

. . . in the spirit of humility

5.  Go in gentleness, patience and humility.  Own up to our own part in the conflict instead of blaming others and acting as if others are responsible for how we are.

Be quick to listen

6.  Listen carefully, summarize and check out what is heard before responding.  Seek as much to understand as to be understood.

Be slow to judge

7.  Suspend judgment about who is "right" and who is "wrong."  Avoid name-calling and threats.  Act in a non-defensive, non-reactive way.

Be willing to negotiate

8.  Work through the disagreement constructively:

 

  • Identify issues, interests and needs of both — rather than take positions.
  • Generate a variety of options for meeting both parties’ needs — rather than defending one’s own way.
  • Evaluate options by how they meet the needs and satisfy the interests of all sides — not just one side’s values.
  • Collaborate in working out a joint solution — so both sides gain, both grow, both learn from the experience and both win.
  • Cooperate with the emerging agreement — accept what is possible, not demand your ideal.
  • Reward each other for each step forward toward agreement — celebrate mutuality.

IN BELIEF

Be steadfast in respect for people

9.  Be firm in commitment to seek a mutual solution.  Be hard on issues, soft on people.

Be open to peace-making

10.  Be open to accepting skilled help.  If we cannot reach agreement among ourselves, we will use those with gifts and training in mediation.

Trust the community

11.  Trust the wisdom of the community (*).  If we cannot reach agreement or experience reconciliation, we will seek assistance from others.

 
  • In one-to-one or small group disputes, this may mean allowing others to arbitrate.
  • This may mean allowing others to help negotiate, arbitrate or implement democratic decision-making processes, insuring that they are done in the spirit of these guidelines, and abiding by whatever decision is made.

Be committed to partnership 

12.  Believe in and rely on the wholeness of the community.  Strive toward peace, productivity, partnership and teamwork.

(*) Community — Whatever group we are part of — It could be a work group, a management team, a business, a community organization, a government agency, a family or any other group that works together.

Source: Adapted by permission from the Mennonite Church USA's "Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love" http://mennoniteusa.org/resource/agreeing-and-disagreeing-in-love/ 
"Agreeing and Disagreeing in Peace" is available as a download  (see Internet Resources).

Exercises

Exercise 1: Checking your perception

You can do this exercise alone, person-by-person or in a staff/group meeting.

  1. Print the graphic and count the number of squares you see.  Take up to 5 minutes to count them.  
  2. Write down your answer.
  3. Ask others you work with how many squares they count.  Write down their answers.
  4. Compare the answers from different people.
  5. What does this tell you?  
  6. People will see different numbers of squares.  They may see 16 or 20 or 30 or more — there is no "right" answer.
  7. This simple exercise shows that our perception of reality is different from others.

Doesn't it make sense that if we come up with different perceptions on this simple exercise, that we might find we can easily disagree about other issues that have strong attachments to our values, beliefs, experience or history.

Is anyone willing to go to war over how many squares there are in this exercise?

What might this tell us about people who are different from us?  Could it be that they simple see something different than we see?

Exercise 2: Showing up as a leader - taking a stand

Write out your answers to these questions on a separate piece of paper

  1. Describe a situation at work where things aren't the way they should be — something needs to change  —  where leadership is needed.
  2. What part of this situation are you concerned about? (e.g., what are you afraid of or worried about?)
  3. What part of this situation can you actually change?
  4. What part have YOU played in keeping this problem going?  (If you think it is someone else's fault, keep working on this step until you identify your role in the conflict.)
  5. What can you do differently about the situation in a positive way?  (e.g., how can you resolve the conflict, tell the truth, discover the hidden value, learn from the situation, change your mind about who is to "blame" etc.)
  6. The point of this exercise is to change your focus from your Circle of Concern (those things you worry about over which you have no control) to your Circle of Influence (those things you can do something about).
  7. It's a fact that where you place your attention is what grows.  If you focus on the negative things or feelings of victim-hood, those feed on themselves and seem to grow larger.  If you focus your attention on the positive things that you can change, more positive things happen in your life to support your attention. 

Principles at work Managing yourself is more important and more effective than managing (fixing) others.

Competence:  Moving from fear and worry to finding positive ways to change your perception and take responsibility for your part in a situation.

Skills: Communicating clearly without avoiding issues, blaming others or defending yourself.

This exercise was adapted from Stephen Covey's "Circle of Concern/Circle of Influence" in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.   See the Resources section for additional articles that describe this in more depth. 

World Wide Web graphic  Internet Resources

book graphic  Books

  • The I of the Storm: Embracing Conflict, Creating Peace, Gary Simmons.  Unity House, 2002 ISBN: 0871592703
  • Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, Roger Fisher, William Ury.  Penguin Books, 1981.  ISBN: 0-14-006534-2
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey.  Simon & Schuster, 1990.   ISBN: 0671708635

world wide web - articles  Articles

smiley graphic  The Lighter Side  

Animated heart graphic Our wish for you:  We hope this month brings you more friends, better relationships and more love in your life.  Here's something you can share with your friends: a Hug Certificate

 

About our resource links:  We do not endorse or agree with all the beliefs shared in these links.  We do keep an open mind about different viewpoints and respect the ability of our readers to decide for themselves what is useful.

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Page updated: November 02, 2016   
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