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When Lemons lead to Misunderstanding

lemons-2039830_1920I recently re-watched the movie, The Break- Up starring Vince Vaughn (Gary) and Jennifer Aniston (Brooke). The title gives away the plot of the film which follows Gary and Brooke as they navigate through their break-up. There is a scene that occurs early on that demonstrates how misunderstandings can affect a relationship. In the movie, Brooke and Gary run into a dispute over lemons. Brooke asks Gary to bring home lemons for a decorative centerpiece for their dinner party they would be hosting. Instead of bringing back a bunch of lemons as Brooke asks, he only returns home with three. A fight ensues due to this misunderstanding.

How many times have you found yourself in a disagreement with someone over a misunderstanding?

I have experienced and observed conflicts over differences many times before at home, in the workplace, in social situations, among other settings. My husband Bernard and I have run into disagreements over what each of us defines, as a “few.”  I feel a few means four minutes, whereas Bernard believes a few means fifteen to twenty minutes. In the workplace, general statements like ” We need to make some calls to get the project done” can cause confusion if it isn’t clear who is designated to make those calls. Misunderstandings can cause many issues so it is important to know how to prevent these miscommunications before they can occur.

  1. Listen actively. When you are speaking with someone, stay present in the moment. We often don’t listen when others are speaking. Instead, we are thinking about what we will say next, or our minds wander to other things, which results in us not hearing everything the other person is saying. Active listening can be a preventative measure to avoiding misunderstandings.
  2. Ask clarifying questions. It is important to recognize that two people can have different definitions or make alternative assumptions to the same thing. Therefore, it is important to clarify and ask further questions to ensure everyone is clear.
  3. Reflect. If a misunderstanding occurs, recognize what you did to contribute to the misunderstanding and what you can do differently next time. In doing so, you can establish preventative measures to ward off miscommunication in the future.

Instead of making misunderstandings a common occurrence in your relationships and possibly causing further damage take these steps to avoid them.

 

Have a Great Week,

Abigail R.C. McManus M.S. Negotiation and Conflict Management

Guest Blogger

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“Stop Being Sensitive!” – A Reflection on Over-Sensitivity

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My entire life, I have been told I’m too sensitive. During this past week, a dispute arose between my husband and I that had everything to do with my over-sensitivity. I keep a journal and after many disagreements with my husband and others I usually write about what happened, why I reacted or felt that way, and what I need to do differently next time. It occurred to me as I was writing in my journal that my over-sensitivity has caused many disputes and hurt feelings in my life.

Why do I believe I am so sensitive?

  1.  I over-analyze everything. A friend could say to me, ” You look skinny today!” My initial thought process after I say, “Thank you” is: Do I look fat other days? Did she mean that or was she just being nice? Or was she trying to be mean? Has she been talking to others about me being overweight?
  2. I am self-conscious about certain things that trigger over-sensitivity. Being intelligent is   something I am very self-conscious about, ever since my second-grade teacher referred to me as stupid in front of the rest of my class. I have made it my life goal never to come across as unintelligent. If someone speaks to me in a condescending manner, or implies stupidity, etc. I immediately get defensive.
  3. I jump to conclusions. I get upset because someone said something that I perceived as offensive. Rather than pause and give that person a chance to explain, I get defensive, or immediately believe that it was said maliciously.

I outlined in my journal these reasons above, and I began to brainstorm how I could work to control my over-sensitivity so that I didn’t find myself in conflicts with others.

  1. Pause and Breathe. Breathing is a great regulator of your heart rate and your mind. I love doing yoga, and breathing is a huge part of it, as it helps you remain centered. In situations where I find myself being over-sensitive, I need to remember to take deep breaths, this will allow me to stay calm and centered.
  2. Think positively – Not Negatively. I have to remind myself that not everyone is out to get me. I am unsure when my distrust of others began, or if I have always been this way. However, anytime I find myself getting upset by something someone said, I have to remind myself that they are not saying it maliciously.
  3. Listen, Clarify, and Ask Questions. It is important that I don’t jump all over someone immediately after they offend me. Many times I have found myself not allowing the person a chance to explain themselves or refine what they say. So in the future, I am going to listen, clarify points they make, and ask questions to make sure I understand their point.

If you find you are over-sensitive, ask yourself why? Reflecting and looking inwards has allowed me to make changes that I have found better myself and my life. You can too!

Have a great week!

Abigail R. C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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The Gifts that Keep on Giving – Forgiveness, Communication and Peace. Holiday Gift Giving that doesn’t cost a dime!

gift-687265_1280December has now become a month full of stress and anxiety over picking the best gift. There is no disputing that Christmas has become a commercialized holiday where the whole point appears to be finding and giving the best gift to your loved ones. I created a holiday gift list in a previous post, presenting my picks for presents to give this season to the peace-lover in your life. I also compiled a gift list this week for those who find themselves in conflict with a loved one; that wouldn’t cost you anything.

Forgiveness. The ability to forgive someone can be difficult, especially when a lot of damage and heartache has occurred. Holding on to grudges and anger can be detrimental to your health and can destroy your relationships. The holiday season is the perfect time to let go and forgive. How can you forgive?

  1. Look inward and analyze. Acknowledge your feelings and take a moment to think about what and why you are feeling the way you do.
  2. Invite a face-to-face dialogue. Invite the person to have a conversation. Then, speak to the person directly, expressing your honest feelings letting them know you want to forgive and move forward.
  3. Write a letter. I lost a family member suddenly a couple of months ago, and before their passing, I had felt a lot of anger and hurt towards him. I lost the ability to express my feelings to him verbally, so I wrote him a letter and found that filling the pages was very therapeutic and allowed me to let go of my anger and hurt. You can write a letter to someone who is still here as well; you could seal and give it to them or not, that choice would be up to you!

Communication. The gift of communication to a loved one you are in conflict could change the course of your relationship. Effective communication allows you to build rapport and trust. Defensive communication causes confusion, anger, and blame, etc. The holidays provide a wonderful opportunity to communicate with your loved ones and resolve conflicts. How can you communicate effectively?

  1. Actively listen. The point here is to speak less and listen more.
  2. Clarify. Miscommunication arises when you don’t clarify what a person says, which then causes false assumptions and confusion. An example: Aunt Mary told Aunt Penny she needed to bring another dessert for Christmas dinner. Aunt Penny agreed to bring a dessert but didn’t clarify what kind of dessert Aunt Mary already had. Christmas day arrives, and Aunt Penny arrives with homemade gingerbread cookies only to find that Aunt Mary had already made that same family recipe. An abundance of gingerbread cookies is not a huge conflict, but if Aunt Mary was hoping for variety, she might be annoyed.
  3. Practice. Good communication requires practice, so listen often, ask curious questions to show you care. This is the ultimate gift.

Peace. Merriam-Webster defines peace as, ” a state in which there is no war or fighting; an agreement to end a war; a period when there is no war or fighting.” Achieving world peace in time for Christmas seems a bit unattainable, but peace with your loved ones is something that can be achievable. How can you achieve peace this holiday season?

  1. Apologize. Say, “I’m sorry” genuinely for whatever wrongdoing you might have done.
  2. Take a time out. If two weeks is not enough time to work through a conflict and an apology just won’t be enough, speak with your opposer and suggest putting the conflict aside for the holidays.
  3. Be empathetic. Try placing yourself in the other’s shoes. A favorite quote of mine by Ian Maclaren proposes, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” During the holiday season, the battle could be financial, emotional, physical, or mental, so be kind because you never know what someone might be experiencing.

The gifts given during the holiday season do not need an expensive price tag. A simple act of forgiveness, communication, or extending an olive branch for peace could bring more cheer to a loved one you are in conflict with than any store- bought gift you find.

 

Happy Holidays,

Abigail R. C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

 

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