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  • Photo by Patricia M. Porter
    PerspectiveMy husband and I love to play games with family and friends. One of my favorite games is Big Boggle, a word game, where you have three minutes to find as many words as you can with earning higher points for four or more lettered words. The game is composed of dice with one letter per dice. We shake the box until all of the letters fall into a slot with letters shown in different directions. Each of the player’s view of the game is different depending on where you sit around the table. After the timer goes off, we then compare words crossing off similar words from our list. Words remaining on your list indicate no one else saw your word nor wrote it down. You then score points for being the only person with the word on the list. Responses such as “Wow, I didn’t see that one.” Or “I can’t believe I didn’t see it. I was looking straight at it.” Then, we start another round amazed how each of us sees the words in front of us differently and yet, ironically, we are all viewing the same die. It is mind boggling.

    Or, is it? Being a conflict management practitioner for over 22 years, I study many aspects of conflict resolution theory, relational dynamics, and neuroscience. The area of study I enjoy exploring is the field of neuroscience and how our brain can work like a muscle. The brain is an organ, but like most muscles, with focused effort, we can practice and build our critical thinking skills, learn to manage and control our emotions, and even change our thinking thus our perspectives. Like everyone else, I can easily stick with what I know and believe my perspective to be the “right way” of doing things or to adamantly state “that’s how I see it, felt it, and experienced it.” So, how can you challenge yourself, build awareness and even explore a perspective building skill? Here are some ideas to get you started.

    • Watch Chris Chabris and Daniel Simmon’s videos. Psychologists and authors of The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us made a series of short and funny video clips to illustrate illusions to our perceptions, how we selectively choose to focus on certain things and dismiss other critical information, and our uncanny ability to not see changes right in front of us.
    • Watch the television series Brain Games. This Emmy-nominated television series demonstrates how the brain processes information. These short episodes on National Geographic are fun and boggle the mind. They introduce a concept such as perception, memory, stress, etc. and then demonstrate through visuals and audio how your brain engages. They provide practical strategies to reduce misperceptions and illusions of memory, and so much more.
    • Play the word game, Big Boggle. Well, it is a fun game and builds word skills. It challenges you to look at so many angles. What are other games which challenge perspective that you would recommend? Let me know.
    • Ask open-ended questions to gain different perspectives and challenge your critical thinking skills. Often disagreements escalate into conflict and even full blown disputes because we get stuck in our perspectives. Taking another perspective leads to undiscovered factual information, understanding another’s experience or emotions and sheds light on a new unseen angle. Asking open-ended questions tells the other person you are genuinely interested in learning. Examples of these types of questions could be
    1. What light can you shed to help me see this differently?
    2. How might you help me see the hidden door and walk through it?
    3. What am I missing that would help me understand your perspective?

    Go out and challenge yourself daily. Build that perspective-taking muscle and skill set. Let me know how it goes.

    Pattie Porter

    Host and Founder

    The Texas Conflict Coach®

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  • Photo credit:  woodleywonderworks

    Goodbye (AttributionRequired)When we hear someone say they are, “ending a relationship” we assume this to mean the person is breaking up with their significant other.  However, “ending a relationship” could also mean severing ties with a friend.  Friendships can be challenging to maintain especially over extended periods of time.  Life provides many excuses for a friendship to end: you move far away from one another, you work more, you have more responsibilities just to name a few. But what about those friendships for which you deliberately choose to walk away? When should you end the friendship? How do you end it?

    Ending a friendship is not easy, but coming to that decision requires careful consideration, especially if you have been friends for a long time.

    When should you end a friendship?

    While it is entirely up to you if and when you decide to sever ties with a friend, there are several junctures where the choice to walk away may be obvious.

    • You can’t trust them. Your friend has done something to betray you whether it was talking about you behind your back, telling your personal stories, hitting on or becoming romantically involved with your significant other are just some examples of how trust can be broken.
    • You feel self-conscious when around them. Your friend consistently puts you down or make snide remarks about your appearance, behavior, or any other aspect that makes you feel bad about yourself.
    • You recognize the friendship is one-sided. You’re always the one making an effort to get together or connect. Or, your friend only reaches out to you during times when they need something, but they don’t reciprocate for you. Then you are likely in a one-sided friendship.
    • You no longer have anything in common. You grow up, develop different interests, make other friends. It is a part of life.

    How do you address this dilemma?

    1. Make sure it is what you want. Rekindling a friendship after you have explicitly made a point of ending it with your friend will be most difficult, therefore, it is important that you are absolutely sure it is what you want. Think about what you will lose by cutting ties with your friend and if the loss is worth it. Consider whether mutual friends will be impacted by this decision. Be mindful if you are still angry about what has occurred, making rash decisions in the heat of the moment most often never turns out well.
    2. Silently Part Ways. If you are in a situation where your friend is no longer reaching out, then it may not be necessary to have a face-to-face conversation. It that situation, perhaps it may be better for you to stop making an effort to reach out and connect. Take some time to consider whether silently parting ways will be the best option or if a face-to-face conversation is the better route to take.
    3. Don’t bring others into it. Meaning, don’t speak poorly or encourage bashing of the friend you are severing ties with in an attempt to gain allies. Involving others friends has the potential to cause damage to more than one friendship.
    4. Be truthful but not mean. If you decide to end the friendship, it may be best to do so in person so that closure can be had for you both. When speaking to them be truthful in your reasons for cutting ties. The strategy of sugarcoating and dancing around the topic will only make ending the relationship worse. It is important to be descriptive and to stick to how their behaviors have made you feel rather than pointing out their flaws. For example, you might say, ” Danielle, I need to end our friendship because for some time now I feel it has been one-sided. I feel frustrated and annoyed as I only hear from you when you need someone to talk to or when you and your boyfriend are fighting.” Rather than, ” Danielle, I’m done being your friend. You are just using me, and I am sick of it.”
    5. Set boundaries for moving forward. If you are severing the friendship make sure it is clear to both you and the person you are walking away from what that means, so there is no confusion. For example, “Danielle, moving forward I feel it is best if neither of us makes efforts to explicitly hang out. However, if we happen to run into each other we still remain cordial.”


    Have a Good Week,

    Abigail R.C. McManus

    Guest Blogger/ Host








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  • entrepreneur-593358_1920Many of us are conflict avoiders typically avoid because the idea of engaging in a dispute fills us with anxiety. You don’t know how to manage the conversation once it starts and in your past experiences conflict has often had negative results. After I had begun the Negotiation and Conflict Management program at the University of Baltimore, I learned the technique of preparation before a conflict. Preparing for an uncomfortable conversation before it happens is an easy way to minimize anxiety that many people feel about conflict.

    Why is preparation an essential ingredient for a hard conversation to go smoothly?

    1. Preparing allows you to be mindful of your fears and anxieties. Acknowledging your frame of mind about the conflict can assist you in re-framing it in a more positive light.
    2. Preparing allows you to format what you want to say and edit to remove any language that could cause the other person to get defensive or take offense.
    3. Preparing also provides you the opportunity to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and anticipate what their responses might be.
    4. Preparing allows you to focus on what you need and want from the conversation and have an end goal in mind.

    For example, you need to have a talk with your roommate about cleaning. You don’t like conflict and often feel your roommate gets upset quickly, and you end up giving up because you don’t want to ruin the relationship.

    The first thing you need to do is sit down and outline what you ultimately need and want from this discussion. You need your roommate to contribute more to the cleaning of the house. You feel that since she has started her new job, you are constantly the one cleaning.

    You don’t want your roommate to get upset or feel attacked so the next step would be to write out how you want to approach this conversation. Perhaps you will say something like:

    Sasha, I wanted to speak with you about how to handle the cleaning of the apartment? I feel that since you began your new job, I have been cleaning the house. At first, I didn’t mind because I knew you were adjusting to your new schedule. But, now I feel that it is becoming more difficult for me to manage and I was hoping we could work out a cleaning schedule that is best for both of us?”

    Once you have read through what you have written edit any points or possible trigger words that could cause your roommate to become defensive. The next step would be anticipating what your roommate might say. Perhaps she will just apologize profusely and say she didn’t realize she had been slacking. Maybe she will say she doesn’t feel a schedule is necessary everyone should just pick up after themselves and clean when necessary. In both cases, prepare how you would like to respond. If your end goal is to have a cleaning schedule, what can you say to make sure that happens?

    Alexander Graham Bell said, ” Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” Addressing conflict and managing it successfully just like anything else requires preparing and practice to become more comfortable and reduce anxieties. Give it a try before your next difficult conversation and take note of how different your experience is.

    Have a Great Week,

    Abigail R.C. McManus

    Guest Blogger/ Host


    Leave a Reply

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