Friday, May 13, 2011

DAY TWELVE: 30 Days to a No-Regrets Life

DAY 12: THE BOXING RING … Resolving conflicts by fighting fair …

          I liked and really understood this chapter well. It was an awesome concept. Obviously, we WILL have conflicts with others, but few know how to productively resolve them and fight fair. It IS very tough to know when to hold your ground and when to throw in the towel. The comparison is to a boxing match, just as the 2 men are brought together in the center of the ring before the match begins. The referee man brings them together and makes sure they are both clear. (Maybe we need relationship referees!!)

Fighting Fair TIP #1: Stay in the ring and off the ropes. Keep a focus until a resolution has been reached.
Men seem to struggle here more than women. Typically, a man will go in his cave instead of talking it out. (Oh really??)

There are basically 5 primary styles of relationship fighting in the ring and most of us have embraced one of them.
  1. The Rope-a-Dope Fighter: Muhammad Ali invented this style. He would bounce against the ropes, hide behind his gloves and not throw any punches. In relationships, these people avoid conflict at all costs and retreat when things get tough. Though this fighting style seemingly produces peace, it undermines the relationship, keeping it shallow and fear based. If resolution cannot happen, the relationship stays at surface level and never develops the intimacy that comes from working through tough issues. (This would have been good information to have known 20 years ago …)
  2. The Knockout Artist: “IT’S MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY.” These people are NOT going down. They fight until they win and the other person gives in. They usually do “win,” but the relationship goes down for the count because the other person has no voice and will usually quit trying.
  3. The Take-the-Fall Fighter: This person throws in the towel early, 1st to give in. They become doormats, roll over and play dead. It is a very false sense of peace because it creates tremendous bitterness in the person giving in and dangerous pride in the one who doesn’t.
  4. The One-Two Puncher: (now we are getting to the healthier techniques) This person is committed to give/take. You get a punch, I get a punch.
  5. The Sparring Partner: **BEST STYLE** Committed to being a teammate and helping their partner. They stay in the ring and off the ropes. They realize that the relationship is more important than the issue they are fighting over. They understand the truth, which is that the process is usually more vital than the outcome. HOW it is resolved is most important.

The authors challenge us to categorize ourselves, reflect back on our parents’ handled conflict and how their style influenced ours … good or bad.

GROUND RULES: These have to be set. They set the stage for the fight. Just as in a boxing ring, there are certain places that the fight is NOT allowed to go. For example, the men are going to hit the other men and it will physically hurt, BUT they are not allowed to strike or involve the manly jewels. Yes, that will hurt the opponent the most, but it takes everything to another level. We can’t hit people where it hurts that bad.
Relationship/verbal groin punches may be: the use of the words “divorce, hate” or profanity. Also, maybe the other person did something terrible in his/her past and it has already been dealt with by both parties. That incident may be tempting for the other person to bring up, so it needs to be off limits just like testicles. We’ve gotta fight fair.

·        Before a confrontation with a co-worker, remind the person that you are committed to find a solution together, not a scapegoat.
·        Before an attempt to resolve an issue with a dear friend, restate your commitment to them and to the friendship. The friend needs to know that you value the relationship and want to preserve it. You are willing to endure the unpleasant feelings in order to salvage the friendship.
·        Put your mouth guard in. Be aware what comes out of your mouth; the message needs to be of love, not cutting and the words need to be productive, not spicy. “It has been said that the real art of conversation is not only saying the right thing at the right time, but also learning to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. (That’s a toughie) Poor choice of words only clogs the real communication that will get you through the conflict.
·        Don’t attack the person. Learn to attack the ISSUES without attacking each other. Do not say, “YOU did this, YOU___ …” Instead, simply own YOUR feelings. Express them without letting them consume the conflict.
·        Avoid a history lesson. The other person already knows the past issues, no need to keep studying them. This technique diverts attention from the conflict at hand. Decide to focus only on the immediate issue and stay until a resolution is reached. When you get historical, don’t be surprised if the other person gets hysterical.
Stay in the ring, face the fight in front of you and focus on fighting fair.

          Focus on reconciliation instead of resolution. There are some instances when 2 people simply cannot and will not come to an agreement. My example version is broccoli and green beans. They are both green vegetables and are both healthy. However, they taste very different. If I like broccoli and hate green beans, and you like green beans but hate broccoli . . . we will never convince the other that our favorite is best. We must disagree agreeably and eat carrots. Our relationship is more important than the vegetable.
THE KEY is respecting the other person’s view. We are not to dismiss the discussion in a “whatever” way to keep the peace and move on. Split decisions allow for and appreciate everyone’s unique perspective brought to the table. Part of the success is being understood.
For me, I do not necessarily want or need to be agreed with, but I strongly desire to simply be understood by those with whom I am closest.

The last point in this chapter is pretty important. It is about anger. I think in my head I have the idea that being angry is wrong and that I should not get angry. I am not sure where that came from, but I have also taught that unhealthy skill to my children. The truth is quite contrary. Anger is a healthy emotion and even Jesus got angry. When something wrongful happens involving something we deeply care about, we WILL get angry. It just needs to be channeled correctly.
          I think I may go pick a fight …
Just to practice doing it right!!
Getting off the ropes and in the ring J … 18 days to go,

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