April 24, 2013

Tips for Resolving Conflict on Our Dream Team (Pt. 3)

Happy Wednesday to you!

Managing Communications During Challenges

Communication through nonviolent means is a skill that isn’t woven into the fabric of most cultures. We now have thousands of years of experience under the influences of kings, pharos, governmental leaders, military leaders, and power figures of a variety of types.

The sad result of this environment is that we’ve imported the very communication styles and behaviors common to those we’ve felt repressed and controlled by into our own homes!

I have empathy and compassion for those that have been shaped by such misfortunes. I used to hate how my father spoke to me commanding without any respect for my wants, feelings and needs. I swore to myself that if I was ever a father, I’d never do that to my son!

Well, life can come with some interesting twists at times. Jumping forward, my son was born when I’d just turned 18. When I was 22, I joined the US Army and became a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division.

The training was physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. I was treated like a piece of meat on good days, and like a piece of shit other days. Without realizing it, the anger and frustration that built up in me percolated out of me at home.

I began running my own little army in my house. My son was recruited into the military without ever having a choice. He was spoken to like a little soldier and was trained like one. At six years of age I had him running 5K races. He joined me often to train with the Army Boxing Team while I was the trainer there for two years.

One day, three years after being out of the military, my wife (Sue) said to me out of the blue, “Paul, you are finally becoming human again. I think most of the military is finally out of you.”

I was shocked. I had no idea that she felt that I was “acting out the military at home.” I realized that her and my son were so afraid of the backlash that may occur if they were honest about their feelings, they just bit their lips and survived me.

Some would say there’s still plenty of military in me, but their viewpoints lack the perspective Sue’s and Paul Jr.’s would carry. I have held onto some of the finer aspects of my military training, such as discipline, self-responsibility, courage, timeliness, and using systems approaches to complex problems.

These qualities turn out to all be useful for our spiritual growth and development. They are also very good qualities to apply to our own desire to learn to communicate more effectively.

Yesterday, I touched on the four pieces of information we need to gather for ourselves, and encourage others to share in times of communication challenges or conflicts:

1. Event: Do I know what event served as a trigger for the party I am speaking with, or, if I initiated the conversation, have I clearly identified my triggering event?

2. Emotions: Do I know what emotions others were feeling about this event and have I told them what mine are?

3. Personal Needs: Have we both (or all) clearly identified which personal needs of ours are producing our feelings and are we adequately differentiating between our needs and requests?

4. Immediate Needs: Do we know what each of us wants to do, or request that the other(s) do right now? What might help us feel more confortable or content in the present?

Today, I’d like to share the three recommendations key points for effectively sharing and using the information above without causing more pain or resistance in relationships to self and/or others:

1. Name-calling and criticizing: In some way telling each other what we think is right or wrong with the other or their behavior.

2. Blaming: Speaking as though someone other than ourselves has made us think, feel or act as we did or do.

3. Bossing or Threatening: In some way telling the other what he or she must, should, ought to, is supposed to do or not do.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m guilty of using these three damaging forms of communication more often than I’d like. I’m willing to change and work on it daily.

I do my initial work by being willing to “witness myself”. If I screw it up, I give myself some empathy and compassion and ask myself how I can preempt this behavior in the “trigger phase” before entering dangerously into the “action phase” of communicating.

Wayland Myers gives these three helpful recommendations on p.70 of his beautiful (Must Have!) little book, “NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION ~ The Basics As I Know and Use Them“:

1. Describe events, feelings and needs rather than express my moralistic opinions about them.

2. Illuminate how my needs are producing my feelings and acknowledge that I have freely chosen to do what I’m dong.

3. Describe what I want next, or clarify my understanding of what they want next, in specific, doable terms.

These a small tips that have made a huge difference in my communications and relationships every time I am wise enough and disciplined enough to use them.

I know that if I’m unwilling to grow and become a more wise, loving, more capable human being, then I’m a fool to expect that kind of person to be attracted to co-creating in live with me.

I hope you enjoy practicing. It is a good idea to apply these methods to yourself first; heal your own inner-dialogue and it’s more natural to apply the methods in relationships with others.

My Day:

I had a lovely time in the gym yesterday. I did a circuit workout and felt great. I’m still hungry from it today!

Paul Morning Rattle

Today I started my day with my rattling and singing practice. I created simple songs that teach the essentials of my 4 Doctor system of self-management for my coaching clients and I. I practice them regularly and they remind me how to manage myself, and they make me feel happy when I sing them too!

Have a lovely day!

Love and chi,
Paul Chek