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Feuds: A Love-Hate Relationship

exchange-of-ideas-222786_1920There is something about a feud we love to watch and see unfold; and, there is a polar opposite feeling when we are directly involved and impacted by emotional disputes. We hate to be in one. There are numerous historical examples of famous family feuds such as the infamous Hatfield and McCoys. Hearing the family names conjures up fierce fighting, violence, and hatred. The media sensationalized the stories as time went on creating a lasting impression in American culture. FX television series recently portrayed another famous rivalry between iconic Hollywood actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in Feud: Bette and Joan.

Susan Sarandon plays Bette Davis’s role, and Jessica Lange plays Joan Crawford’s character. The spellbinding series captured my full attention, and I loved watching the two actresses, Sarandon and Lange give award-winning performances. What was interesting in watching the series is how the drama unfolded with each star positioning themselves to outperform the other and win at all costs. The women fought over acting roles, lovers, directing scenes, the limelight, and just about anything where one had power over the other. Unfortunately, Hollywood elite, gossip columnists, producers, and directors pitted Davis and Crawford against each other to keep the fight going creating a media buzz for high dollar ratings. Sarandon and Lange’s performance made me feel the tension, anxiety, frustration and anger as the two played out the intense scenes.

In yet another recent television series Fear Thy Neighbor on the Investigation Discovery channel, the series portrays real crime cases of neighbor feuds that resulted in intense fighting, verbal abuse, physical violence and even murder between families. In many of these cases, the neighbors started out being friendly and even good friends. In every single case, a seemingly small irritation occurred between two households such as driving over someone’s grass, playing loud music, or feeding the deer.

In each of these feuds, the misunderstandings and small disagreements could have been addressed early and simply if people had not closed the door to conversation. Instead, the silence and avoidance only lead to people making false assumptions, negative judgments, and increasing anger and destructive behaviors. It causes people to take sides and deepen the positions of right and wrong. The cycle continues until tensions and intolerance take over causing an eruption which is often damaging and can be deadly. The key to stopping a fight from becoming a lengthy feud is to address the situation early, calmly and constructively.

Obviously, television’s aim is to entertain, educate or touch their viewers. I must admit I am attracted to these types of programs but would hate to be personally involved in a feud. I tend to view these programs as an opportunity to learn what NOT to do. Here are things you can do.

  • Think about the possible consequences of your retaliatory behaviors
  • Consider other reasons for why the other person is upset with you
  • Approach the other person as someone who is in pain, fearful, or anxious versus someone who is evil.
  • Monitor your emotional thermometer taking measures not to boil over causing a surprising eruption

Next time you watch a movie or television series, observe the behaviors, non-verbal cues, and emotions that contribute to de-escalating a dispute and then try them out in your life.

Pattie Porter, LCSW

Conflict Management Expert

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The Guilt Trip – How to Address a Master Manipulator

Depositphotos_84031256_m-2015 (GuiltTrip)We’ve all experienced a guilt trip at some point in our lives.  Family members, co-workers, significant others, bosses, friends, are all likely candidates to enlist a guilt trip on you for some reason for another. Perhaps, you’ve even guilt-tripped someone in the past.

The bestselling author, Dr. George Simon describes a guilt trip as:

“A special kind of manipulation tactic. A manipulator suggests to the conscientious victim that he or she does not care enough, is too selfish, or has it easy. This usually results in the victim feeling bad, keeping them in a self-doubting, anxious and submissive position.”

I never looked at guilt trips as a form of manipulation, I always just associated it with a thing older relatives do. But it is manipulation; emotional, communication manipulation. An example of this would be, “If you cared about me, you wouldn’t X!” or “If you loved me as you say you do, then you would Y.” One example that I’ve heard before, “We don’t have many years left, you should call us while you can.” Anytime I have been at the receiving end of this behavior I have recognized that I feel guilty for whatever I did or didn’t do which is what the person wanted me to feel. I will then immediately apologize and try to figure out how to rectify the situation. However, I also notice whether in the moment or later that I will feel resentment. When I feel resentment, I recognize that it has an effect on my relationships, and I feel less inclined to do what that person wants the next time.

But if like me, you find yourself resenting the person or people guilt tripping you this must be addressed so that it does not damage your relationship.

It is important to recognize when you are being manipulated with a guilt trip. The guilt trippers know that by triggering your sympathy button, it will result in you feeling sorry for not behaving in the way that they want. Being able to recognize when this is happening will assist you in addressing it when it comes up.

I found a great article on PsychologyToday.com by Dr. Winch, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, and author that had two suggestions on how to address those who emotionally manipulate.

The first, Dr. Winch, Ph.D. suggests speaking to the person guilt tripping and, “Explain that their using a guilt trip to make you conform to their wishes makes you feel resentful, even if you do end up complying.” Acknowledging that you are aware of what they are doing could have a profound effect because you are calling out their behavior that they may believe they are hiding. It is important to express that the resentments that are festering are not something you want and you bringing it up is a way to alter these feelings.

Second, Dr. Winch, Ph.D. suggests is, “Ask them to instead express their wishes directly, to own the request themselves instead of trying to activate your conscience, and to respect your decisions when you make them.” It may be difficult for the person to respect your decisions especially if they are not receiving what they want at first. But, if they ask you directly to do something, it could make you feel more willing to do whatever they are asking. You may be more willing to do it because they asked you not because they guilted you into it.

We have all at one point or another been on the receiving end of a guilt trip and maybe even the deliverer. To make sure our relationships don’t suffer as a result of these experiences we must learn to address them directly.

 

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

Guest Blogger/ Host

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Reframing Campus Conflict

Straight from the Archives! Reintroducing our Guests, Dr. Nancy Giacomini and Jennifer Meyer Schrage, J.D., co-authors of “Reframing Campus Conflict: Student Conduct Practice through a Social Justice Lens” on August 15th at 7 pm CST on Blog Talk Radio.

Dr Nancy GiacominiJennifer Meyer SchrageAre you a parent of a college student or an educator dealing with campus conflict? Maybe YOU are a student who’s gotten into some trouble on your campus? If so, this shows for you.

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Back to School: Building a Bridge of Positive Communication to Create a Positive Learning Process

Straight from the Archives! Reintroducing our Guest, Angela Woodrow, CEO, The Coaching Continuum, Inc. on August 8th at 7 pm CST on Blog Talk Radio.

angela woodrowParent, you are your child’s best advocate. Just like painting a room, the more preparation you do the better the result. It may seem like oversimplification when it comes to communicating to your school, especially if it has not always been the most positive process. Separating the facts, emotions, and results can be confusing.

In this program we highlight three free resources that will help you:

  • Gather the facts
  • Organize your information
  • Identify effective ways to communicate with your child’s school /teacher

Knowing your child’s learning style and being able to quantify and collaborate their interest and abilities to what is going on in the classroom is like having cliff notes for accelerated learning. If you are a parent who feels overwhelmed, dealing with the demands of work as well as your child’s school issues this conversation is for you. Angela Woodrow, whom as a coach, provides the opportunity for individuals and the organizations to discover distinctions, maintain focus, and develop and implement action plans. As a life long learner, she advocates for parents and teachers to build the bridge to positive education processes for all.

For more information on this subject check out these sites: Parent Driven Schools, Authentic Happiness, and  Love and Logic

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The 3 C’s of Listening

Straight from the Archives! Reintroducing our Guest, Susan Shearouse, Principal, Frameworks for Agreement, on July 11th at 7 pm CST on Blog Talk Radio.

SusanShearouseListening is a skill. It is an art. It is a discipline. It is hard. It takes attention and practice. It takes awareness. It is particularly hard when you don’t want to hear the person who is talking to you. It is particularly hard in disagreements, arguments, and conflicts. How do we listen without being caught by the judgments, opinions, desires, justifications and stories rumbling around in our heads?

In this session, we will be talking with Susan Shearouse, Frameworks for Agreement. We will explore the 3 C’s of listening: how to prepare yourself and enter a difficult conversation able to hear what is being said, to be able to listen more effectively.

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Conflict Chat ….Ripped from the Headlines

Listen LIVE on June 27th at 7:00 pm CST at Blog Talk Radio. Call in to speak with our guest hosts, Tracy Culbreath King and Stephen Kotev, (347) 324-3591.

Call_Us_Need_Help_Animated

Got Conflict? If you have a conflict with someone and are not sure how to handle it, then let us know. Here is your opportunity to ask your question with Conflict Management experts who are mediators, conflict coaches, and facilitators on how to think about, analyze or resolve your situation.

Think about it. Are you currently engaged in an active conflict with your co-workers or boss? Ignoring your neighbor because of a conversation you don’t want to have? In a disagreement with your spouse? Or simply afraid to bring up a concern with a friend in fear of stirring up problems.

Join us live. Here is how:

  • Call 347-324-3591; press 1 and wait for a Host;
  • Use the Reply box below to post your question or conflict situation;
  • Join us in the chat room live on the night of the program. Post your comment or question here and we will bring it into the program;
  • Join our LIVE Twitter chat using #ConflictChat every Tuesday night at 5 pm Pacific/ 7 pm Central/ 8 pm Eastern

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Addressing the Needs of LGBTQ Youth

Straight from the Archives! Reintroducing our Guest, Andrew Barnett, Past Executive Director for SMYAL, on June 13th at 7 pm CST on Blog Talk Radio.

Stories of attacks on the way home from the bus stop, bullying in the classroom, and assaults in school hallways are all-too-frequent reminders that our community and many others throughout the US are still not safe places for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. Perhaps what is most heartbreaking is that some youth have come to believe that this is normal, that this is just part of growing up, or that this is how life is for LGBTQ individuals. SMYAL is working to change all that by providing an inclusive environment and empowering DC-area LGBTQ youth to be leaders and advocates for themselves and their peers in the broader community. We provide youth with the opportunities, support, and skills they need to de-escalate conflicts as they occur and to work within their community to root out these conflicts from their source.

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Turning Your Kaleidoscope for a Different Perspective

kaleidoscope-2186166_1920I grew up in a family addicted…addicted to conflict drama. Our family’s drama resulted from a single grandparent trying to raise three grandchildren on a limited income. I learned to survive my grandmother’s potent rage by observing and avoiding things that might trigger her wrath. I was adept at avoiding potential conflict and confrontation. Today, I am a recovering conflict avoider.

As a child, I learned that the only perspective that mattered in the conflict game was my grandmother’s viewpoint. I remember she had a pair of binoculars in an old brown, canvas case. She used it when we would visit the beach to watch birds or see the ships in the far distance. The binoculars were a way to get close and see things from afar more intimately; however, it also provided a narrow viewing field. We used a similar telescopic lens when seeing situations that triggered my grandmother.

For years, I used a telescopic perspective and stayed hyper vigilant to the signs and signals so as not to disturb the periods of time that were calm and peaceful. I honed my conflict avoidance skills, but these same skills did not serve me well as I entered into adulthood.  I became more self-aware that other perspectives than my own existed and questioned how could it possibly be that others didn’t think the way I did. I stopped using the binoculars if you will and learned how to use a kaleidoscope.

The Kaleidoscope was one of my most fascinating toys as a child. It felt exotic compared to my Barbie dolls. Upon holding the long tube to my eye, I saw vibrant and intricate shapes. And to my discovery, I could turn the end of the tube to see an endless number of colorful patterns. The kaleidoscope is an optical instrument with multiple reflections from mirrors, glass pieces, colored beads, and today, can be made of any number of small objects to create various perspectives. To learn and read the history of the kaleidoscope, read here.

How can we use the kaleidoscope, not the telescope, to see various perspectives in disputes? Just as each kaleidoscope provides unique patterns, every person we encounter is unique with different familial experiences, beliefs, values and personality characteristics.

When we are in an interpersonal conflict, we tend to focus on one perspective usually our own very narrowly. We don’t turn the kaleidoscope to see a different angle to the story. We experience the other person in the conflict as the individual who wronged us in some way. The beauty of a kaleidoscope is the mirrors used to reflect simple elements into a complex arrangement. It is in the turning of the long tube that allows each of us to see a distinct perspective. In conflict conversations, the turning of the kaleidoscope means taking action, actively listening and asking questions to gain a new understanding. It is revealing, beautiful, and often leads to a deeper understanding of what makes the other person unique.

Learning how to turn the kaleidoscope changed my life and gave me the courage to take more risks. I wanted to see more beautiful things in people, and myself. I do have to remember to pick up the kaleidoscope in my interpersonal conflicts and turn it to see the hidden patterns. Have you done this lately?

If not, I invite you to pick up and turn your kaleidoscope for a new perspective.

Pattie Porter, LCSW

Conflict Management Expert

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Conflict Chat ….Ripped from the Headlines

Listen LIVE on May 30th at 7:00 pm CST at Blog Talk Radio. Call in to speak with our host Pattie Porter and guest host, Tracy Culbreath King, (347) 324-3591.

Call_Us_Need_Help_Animated

Got Conflict? If you have a conflict with someone and are not sure how to handle it, then let us know. Here is your opportunity to ask your question with Conflict Management experts who are mediators, conflict coaches, and facilitators on how to think about, analyze or resolve your situation.

Think about it. Are you currently engaged in an active conflict with your co-workers or boss? Ignoring your neighbor because of a conversation you don’t want to have? In a disagreement with your spouse? Or simply afraid to bring up a concern with a friend in fear of stirring up problems.

Join us live. Here is how:

  • Call 347-324-3591; press 1 and wait for a Host;
  • Use the Reply box below to post your question or conflict situation;
  • Join us in the chat room live on the night of the program. Post your comment or question here and we will bring it into the program;
  • Join our LIVE Twitter chat using #ConflictChat every Tuesday night at 5 pm Pacific/ 7 pm Central/ 8 pm Eastern

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Mediation, Elder Abuse and Saving the Family: Mediation & Conflict Strategies to Avoid Elder Abuse

Steve MehtaAs Americans are getting older, more and more issues arise relating to elder abuse in financial and health care settings.  Studies show that the majority of abuse occurs within the family.  What can be done to resolve these issues?  Listen to a respected elder abuse mediator and author, Steve Mehta, and learn how to address these difficult issues.

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