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This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
Sharon
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
M.G.
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
Indepthwoman
I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

Mom M
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
Gary
I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
C.M.
Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
D.R.
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
J.K.

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Working Through Conflict with Passion and Compassion

I avoid conflict.  Frequent challenges to my beliefs, words or actions wear me down and suck away priceless energy.  Despite that confession, I am in the middle of training to become a Family Mediator (primarily a Divorce Mediator). A strange choice for someone who avoids conflict, right? Oddly enough other people’s contention doesn’t bother me as much and may even give me a little boost of energy. Violent conflict never feels good but if I hear other’s having trouble getting along I have a deep desire to help them. I want to solve their problems. I want harmony. I want humanity to prevail over prowess.

How Does Mediation Work?

Mediation is about collaboration and minimizing conflict. People come together to resolve conflict by creating options, evaluating them and then selecting the best ones.  They negotiate until agreements are reached. The mediator’s job is to facilitate the negotiations, help the clients come up with proposals for solutions, keep all parties on task and offer information (not advice).  The mediator is not a therapist or a lawyer. He or she will not make decisions for the parties but will help them work together to find options that all find acceptable. If an agreement can’t be reached the parties may go to court and have a judge make decisions for them. Turning your decision-making power over to a judge is difficult.  The beauty of mediation is that it keeps the power in the clients’ hands.  There are no sides or positions. Mediation fosters direct communication (rather than talking through attorneys) which helps couples maintain a good relationship. A collaborative process versus an adversarial one is much easier on the spirit. It gives a nod to humanity rather than winning.

Conflict or Passionate Concern? 

In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain describes a study done with MBA students from Hong Kong and Israel. Both groups pretended they were making preparations for their wedding. Some of them were shown a video of a smiley congenial catering manager giving them bad news — another couple wanted the same wedding date and the price had gone up.  Others were shown a video of an irritable and antagonistic manager with the same message.  The Asian students were much more likely to take the deal from the smiley manager but the Israelis were just as likely to take the deal from either manager.  The Israelis focused only on the information presented.  The Asians noted emotions AND subject. Asian cultures often show respect by minimizing conflict. Israeli culture does not view disagreement as disrespect, but as a signal that the other person is engaged and passionately concerned.

So Engaging

I think my twelve-year-old son is energized by challenging me.  I tell him to wear a coat. He says he doesn’t need a coat. I tell him no phones in his bedroom.  He asks, How many phones do you think I have?  He says the word retard is a legitimate term to call someone who has an IQ below 70.  I say, Don’t use such an unkind derogatory word. I say, It’s more important to be kind than right all the time.  He says, You’re wrong. I know other parents are out there

Even John-Boy challenged his elders

nodding their heads thinking, Yeah, telling your parents they don’t know anything is a rite of passage. I believe, like the Israelis, my son sees his words and my reaction (too often knee-jerk or passionately frustrated) as concerned engagement. The exchanges stimulate him. As much as I’d like to, I can’t run away from this conflict. Even though I see and feel them as exhausting and at times disrespectful, it helps to understand that for him conflict is a way of taking my participation temperature. That said, it’s still important he learn it’s possible to communicate or even disagree without one-upping or defeating someone.

Compassion Is the Point

Choosing your words carefully is not just a matter of semantics. It’s a matter of caring enough about the people you talk to, to adopt a mode of expression that is as rich in compassion as it is in the passion you feel towards making your point.

~ T.K. Coleman, The Conversation Begins with Respect

Conflict is inevitable but need not be debilitating. It gives us a chance to engage with others and witness their humanity. Can you disagree with as much compassion as passion? I believe the ability to empathize while in conflict is a step toward your highest self.

How do you react to conflict?  Do you like to engage or are you more likely to  move away from it? Is harmony more important than winning?

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4 Comments

  1. Debbi October 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    I particularly liked the example you gave of the Asian scenario. I have long thought that I disliked receiveing bad news from smiling people more so than those that were not.

    I try to avoid conflict by dealing with foreseen factors proactively. If I can’t do that, I prefer harmony to winning. I try to work through the issue to get that true harmony inside and outside of myself. However, there is one regular conflict that stays inside while I do what I have to to keep harmony on the outside. I have also managed to reduce the size of that conflict, and that is nice…having a little more peace inside.

    • brennagee October 15, 2012 at 11:36 am - Reply

      The Asians preferred to receive bad news from the friendly manager but sounds like that would not sit well with you.

      I’m with you regarding choosing harmony over winning. It wears me out trying to keep up or one-up others. I’d prefer flowing with them but not in an accommodating way, in a respectful way.

      I like that you mentioned the harmony inside AND outside of you. I believe peace has to start within. As within, as without. 🙂

      Thank for your insightful response. Much appreciated.

  2. 3D Eye October 13, 2012 at 8:25 am - Reply

    A very thought-provoking post, as ever. I wonder whether conflict is indeed inevitable? Maybe we can choose to be in conflict with someone, or indeed choose not to be! Maybe there are two distinct stages that we should go through before entering into conflict, as such. Firstly, clarifying our individual points of view, for our own sake as well as for someone else’s. After that we could step away and take some time to respectfully consider the other’s point of view, and indeed our own. At this initial stage it’s possible for opinions and positions to be reconsidered, modified or changed without losing face or getting emotionally overheated. At this stage we can still say, “I’ve thought about what you said, and I think maybe you’re right about x, y and z.”

    The second stage might be to enter into an amicable discussion and a debate to get further clarification and maybe try to persuade someone why they might be mistaken or unjustified in their opinions, and why you might be justified in yours. A further period of stepping away and reflecting might further delay or avoid actual conflict. I know that I’m a procrastinator (and like you I dislike conflict) but sometimes it’s perfectly reasonable and a good strategy to go away and think about what someone has said before you try to engage with them further.

    The third stage might be to engage in conflict, in which case you can let battle commence!

    As for dealing with stroppy teenagers and the pre-teens – doh! Not my forte. The thought does now occur to me though, that the home is maybe the safest and the best place for our children to develop their emotional ‘intelligence’ through learning to manage their destructive emotions – anger, resentment, disrespect, etc. Through testing out our limits of tolerance and through seeing what damage can be caused by unleashing destructive emotions (to themselves and others) they learn valuable lessons for life. Not that I saw it this way when I had teenagers living at home!
    G

    • brennagee October 14, 2012 at 10:02 am - Reply

      I personally love the idea of stepping back from conflict and reflecting. I have learned over the years to say, “Let me think about it” when a situation or suggestion pops up that will require a significant change or reaction. I used to think it was weak to not have a quick response. Now I know it is how I am wired. I will make wiser decisions if I ponder things for a while.
      I can see all the introverts rallying behind the idea of pausing during conflict but the more extroverted individuals like to get on with it.

      I do think the home should be a safe place for children to learn, test boundaries and be themselves. I guess I should be grateful my son tests me more than he tests his teachers and others in the community. I just hope I have the strength and patience to guide him to kindness and tolerance. I would love for his mind to be open but know that I cannot make that happen.

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply Gary. I always appreciate your insight because I know you have witnessed the education of children both professionally and as a parent. You also have a spirit open to non-conformity.

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