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Mediating with True Believers

 

  Church congregations are not immune to conflict. Beth Padgett and Alexandria Skinner would argue that conflict is a sign of an active, engaged, and vital congregation. The question is not whether religious communities will have conflict, but how they will respond to it when it happens. Beth and Alexandria will discuss patterns of church conflict, as well as how mediators can invite clergy, staff, and members into trans-formative conversations where firmly held beliefs are part of the conflict and its transformation.   

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Courage as a Choice: Building Your Courage Muscle

Cowardly-Lion-1In the classic 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, I remember the scene with the Cowardly Lion who says,

Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?

Courage!

So what does it really mean to have courage especially in times of disagreement? Courage is the ability to stay strong and address what you find difficult, scary and challenging. Courage is a choice. Being courageous and fearless takes practice; it takes being vulnerable; it means making hard decisions and it requires action. Like any skill or behavior, it takes concerted effort to build.

For many people, including myself, encountering disagreements and facing escalating interpersonal conflict is scary. Interpersonal conflicts challenge our beliefs, values systems and our self-image. The closer we are to someone in a relationship whether it be our teenager, coworker, spouse, sibling, best friend, boss or neighbor, we are presented with opportunities to practice being vulnerable and courageous. So what steps can you take to build your courage muscle?

  • Name your fear or anxiety. Simply speak out loud to yourself and name the fear. For example,” I am afraid she will not talk to me anymore if I raise the issue.” Naming “it” lessens the emotional impact.
  • Take a deep breath. Breathing slows your brain’s defensive reaction and helps you focus. When building muscle, you isolate the exercise to a specific muscle group which in turn strengthens the ability to use the muscle in a different way. Breathing helps manage anxiety.
  • Set your intention. What is a new courageous goal you will set for yourself when facing interpersonal conflict? For example, “My goal is to communicate my needs in a respectful manner regardless of whether the other person disagrees.”
  • Acknowledge every tiny step you take. It is important to build self-confidence by acknowledging every small risk, step or effort in building courage as you work toward your goal.
  • Speak your truth. This is not about debating who is right or wrong. It is about speaking from your heart and being vulnerable with the other person to share your deeper thoughts and emotions. It is about being authentic and genuine to who you are in the face of conflict.
  • Listen to the other person’s truth. Building our courage muscle also means receiving feedback and listening deeply to the other person’s truth and be willing to be present with them.

These are just a few strategies to practice courage and build your courage muscle.

Pattie Porter. LCSW

 

Listen and learn more with Eric Galton and Unbearable Conflict Requires Courageous Conversations

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Talking to Your Tweens and Teens When They Question Their Beliefs

 

Janet Bonnin-1StephenKotev2As our children grow, they naturally push for more control over their own lives. Growing independence and natural curiosity may bring them to question why the family believes what we believe. They might even reach the point of changing or abandoning beliefs held dear. How do we, as parents, keep emotions in check and constructively engage our kids in a conversation about our beliefs? How might we turn a potential minefield into blessings in disguise?

Join Guest Host Stephen Kotev and returning guest, Janet Bonnin, owner of Fine-Tuned Families and founder of the Families of The Way Christian ministry, for a fascinating and courageous conversation on beliefs. We’ll look at how to respectfully and lovingly share what is in our minds and hearts while giving our children the space to seek answers to the questions they have.

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Dealing with Conflict When Crisis Strikes – Thoughts from the Baltimore City Riots

emergencyprepchecklistI am writing this week’s blog post with a heavy heart. I was born and raised in Maryland, and I have been a resident of Baltimore City for the past four years. The events that occurred over the course of these past couple of weeks; starting with the arrest and then the death of Freddie Grey, is nothing short of tragic. As a student graduating in less than two weeks, with my Masters in Negotiation and Conflict Management from the University of Baltimore, these events have been eye opening to the deep-seated conflicts that exists not only in Baltimore City, but also throughout the United States. As a society, my hope is that we will do better, see the error in our ways, and make the necessary changes needed to progress forward.

Conflict will likely occur when multiple actors are involved in dealing with crisis incidents. In Baltimore, a number of businesses, large and small, were casualties of the riots. Companies must be organized so that owners and employees know what to do, where to go, who to report to, and what they are permitted to do to ensure safety, during times of crisis. If not, escalating conflict will occur causing confusion, possible injury, lack of timely response, and finger pointing when things don’t go well. Christine Pearson suggests in her article “A Blueprint for Crisis Management”, “The best firms … recognize that taking deliberate steps to prepare for the unforeseen can pay off handsomely.”

If a business does not formulate an approach to managing a crisis smoothly, conflict could arise between owners, employees, and external influences and the consequences could be potentially damaging.

So what can business owners and employees do to ensure these damaging consequences do not occur in the midst of a crisis?

Diana Pisciotta a contributor to Inc.com suggests, “One of the best outcomes of thinking about a crisis before it happens is the chance to consider your company’s strategy without the pressure of news choppers hovering over your facility.” Before a crisis occurs it is important to have an emergency plan in place so that all parties involved know what could be the worst outcomes, who to report to and receive directives from, and what is the plan moving forward. Effective communication of a crisis plan could clear up misunderstandings of authority and the tasks for which each person is responsible.

Clark Communications a virtual public relations agency recommends, “Communicate quickly and accurately – Positive, assertive communication focuses attention on the most important aspects of the problem and moves the entire process forward to resolution, even in an adverse environment or with an antagonistic news media.” In a crisis, especially now in the digital era, information whether accurate or not, is streamed to a global audience in an instant. Those in leadership roles need to communicate to their employees the facts they have received in a timely fashion, or they risk inaccurate information being received or heard. In a crisis, this could be detrimental.

Christine Pearson warns, “Once notified that a crisis has broken out, the best an organization can hope for is effective assistance from those within and outside the organization.” If a business does not have positive relationships formed both internally and externally, when a crisis occurs an owner cannot assume their employees and stakeholders will be there is assist once the dust settles. A business owner must build these relationships up to ensure assistance once a calamity occurs.

Finally, personality conflicts occur when a mix of different cultures, race, beliefs, attitudes, and work styles come together in one place. Royale Scuderi from Lifehack emphasizes, “Personality conflicts can be one of the biggest challenges in the workplace. Conflicts can usually be diffused by acceptance, understanding, appropriate action, and professionalism.” In times of crisis, it’s imperative that business owners and employees, put their differences assign and focus on the task at hand. It is important to recognize that they are all working towards the same goal.

Abigail Clark

Graduate Student, University of Baltimore –

Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

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Being open-minded after I do – A discussion and tips on the blending of an intercultural relationship

blogIn six months, I will be getting married and one of the Pastor’s requirements was to meet with him and discuss how we plan to handle certain topics such as money, parenting, and marital expectations. The meeting was fairly easy as my fiancé and I share similar views and values on most of the topics covered. The other day at school, I was speaking to a friend who is also getting married around the same time as me, to a man from a completely different religious background. My friend is Catholic and her fiancé is Hindu. She will be blending two different religions into one household; I couldn’t help but think to myself how challenging that must be for a couple. Religion is one of those dinner party topics you are supposed to avoid because of the conflicts that often arise when they are discussed. However, a couple that is about to get married does not have the luxury of avoiding such topics. I began to research the challenges intercultural marriages face, and the majority of the information I found discussed the ability to learn, understand, accept, and adjust to one another’s cultures.

In an article found on Marriage Missions International, initially written in Steve and Mary Prokopchak’s book, Called Together, they first caution intercultural couples to “Know each other’s culture.” Intercultural couples must have an understanding of one another’s culture, beliefs and values, as these are part of what makes up a person’s identity. A lack of understanding has the potential to raise fierce conflicts later on in marriage.

Herbert G. Lingren, an Extension Family Life Specialist, warns a value conflict may occur if, “two people have different attitudes, beliefs, and expectations. These differences may interfere in making decisions if we are inflexible and hold rigid, dogmatic beliefs about the ‘right way’ to do things.” Communicating, understanding, keeping an open mind, and respecting one another’s beliefs and customs can alleviate a lot of the disagreements an intercultural couple faces.

In an article originally published in the Washington Post, Rebecca R. Kahlenberg, a freelance writer, suggests “Negotiate and renegotiate dicey issues. Ideally, the time to discuss and make agreements about intercultural topics is before the wedding. What are each of your commitment levels to your culture?” Prior to getting married it is imperative that an intercultural couple discusses in detail what cultural expectations each has and how they will address differences as they arise.

Lastly, Steve and Mary Prokopchak encourage “Accepting and appreciating as many of the differences as you can will serve to enhance the marriage relationship. This experience is not to be viewed as all negative. The differences are something to embrace and value in one another.” While the blending of two different cultures may seem challenging at times, the positive outweighs the negative when looking at the big picture. An intercultural couple learns to be more open-minded and tolerant towards other people’s values and beliefs. If the couple then chooses to have kids, their kids will also grow to be more tolerant and open minded, which in today’s society is absolutely needed to make the world a better place.

My aforementioned friend said that despite the challenges she and her fiancé have and will face, she has come to love and appreciate Hindu customs. She said she looks most forward to kids and sharing with them all of the wonderful elements that both religions have to offer.

 

Abigail Clark

Graduate Student, University of Baltimore –

Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

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Coexistence and Conflict June Radio Show Series

Coexistence and Conflict Radio Show Series

What happens when we are faced with a situation when our values and belief systems are so polarized it motivates us to hide or to fight vehemently?  Our so-called conflict becomes a protracted dispute for years to come. And yet, how do we begin to acknowledge these differences, embrace our diversity and learn how to coexist in these challenging situations.

The Texas Conflict Coach blog talk radio show will host a number of special guests.

When: Every Tuesday evening in June

Time: 5:00-5:30 pm PST/ 7:00-7:30 pm CST/8:00-8:30 pm EST

How: Call in live at 347-324-3591

Listen live and join the chat at www.blogtalkradio.com/texas-conflict-coach

Listen to archive shows or learn more at Texas Conflict Coach

June 7Coexistence and Conflict with Mari Fitzduff

Professor Fitzduff is the Program Director of the Coexistence and Conflict program at The Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. She will discuss her personal experiences living near the Killing Fields of Northern Ireland and how this motivated her to start the Coexistence and Conflict Program.

June 14I Shall Not Hate with Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish

Dr. Abuelaish will talk about his education as a Palestinian becoming a doctor, his work at an Israeli hospital delivering babies and going back and forth over the border to Gaza, and the night that 3 of his daughters were killed in an Israeli attack on Gaza.  Despite this tragedy, Dr. Abuelaish, who now lives in Toronto, Canada, still speaks out for peace.

June 21 – Mediating with True Believers with Beth Padgett and Xan Skinner

People often firmly hold onto beliefs about religion, sexuality/gender concepts, and even family traditions and child-rearing practices. Xan and Beth will identify and discuss barriers to transformation in conflicts related to firmly held beliefs and values. They will share successes they have experienced in their work with individuals and groups who came to mediation entrenched in fixed beliefs. They will also discuss what they learned about mediation, and about their roles as mediators, from mistakes, mis-steps and mishaps along the way.

June 28 – A Look Back at Hurricane Katrina – A Radical New Role for Conflict Management Professionals with Cindy Mazur

Cindy Mazur, a Director for Alternative Dispute Resolution at a federal agency that delivers emergency management services, will use Hurricane Katrina as a model  to discuss the phenomenology of disasters in America. Various deleterious factors can be forecast that impede effective emergency response. These factors can be better managed when one person is placed in a role to oversee and manage the crisis phase of a disaster. A Conflict Management Professional can unify the ad hoc crisis management team and ensure its accountability and engagement. Provision of a structural solution of this nature would signify a commitment by our government to mitigate human misery in disasters.

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