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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.

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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

Straight from the Archives! Reintroducing our Guest, Steve Mehta, California’s Super Lawyer and Mediator, on May 16th at 7 pm CST on Blog Talk Radio.

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?  Talk with a respected elder abuse mediator and author, Steve Mehta, to address these difficult issues.

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Who’s in Charge-Managing Difficult Decisions Around A Parent’s Care

Straight from the Archives! Reintroducing our Guest, Byron Cordes, one of the nation’s leading experts in Geriatric Care Management, on May 2nd at 7 pm CST on Blog Talk Radio

Byron Cordes When a family member needs help everyone has an idea of what is “best.” Many times, adult children are called upon in a crisis to help their parents make some decisions about their care. The family and the senior have to decide the senior may need. The differing options of care (how much, what type, and how it will be funded) can cause conflict within the family. Geriatric Care Managers are often called upon to help negotiate these very difficult decisions.

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What Dr. Seuss Taught Me -Teaching Conflict Resolution through Children’s Literature

Zax

The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss. Illustration by Dr. Seuss. Picture, taken by: Patricia M. Porter.

I have a niece, Zoey, who is eighteen months old, and I was recently looking at children’s books to get her. I always loved when my mom would read to me as a kid especially books where there was a lesson to be learned. I started thinking about books that would be appropriate for teaching Zoey about conflict, being that I am a conflict intervenor. After doing some research, I found the perfect story in one of Dr. Seuss’s collections titled, “The Zax.”

The story is about a North-Going Zax and a South-Going Zax who come to the same spot on their journey and bump into one another. Neither one is willing to step out of the other’s way as they both have an abundance of pride, so they stay unmoved for days, months, even years. The conclusion of the story explains that while the Zax’s refused to budge the world continued, and eventually a highway was built around them.

How is the story of the Zax’s a good way to teach children and even adults about conflict resolution?

 

 

  1. It demonstrates a conflict without a resolution. As neither Zax would agree to move, they remained stuck in the same spot missing the developing world around them. How many times have we witnessed a fight between two people where both parties refused to budge on their position? What do those two individuals end up missing out on because of their pride?
  2. It’s a way to discuss negotiation and compromise. What did the Zax’s ultimately want? The North-Going Zax wanted to go North while the South-Going Zax wanted to go South. They both felt the other should move out of their way so that they could go forth. However, if they had discussed their problem instead of forcefully asking the other to move, they could have worked out a compromise that both parties would have found met their needs.
  3. It’s an excellent lesson in attacking the problem not that person. The Zax’s attack one another by saying things like, “YOU are blocking my path, get out of my way.” They could have instead looked at the problem itself and how they could fix it rather than attacking one another.
  4. It teaches conflict escalation. How did the Zax’s make the problem worse? The North-Going Zax started, “I never,” he said, “take a step to one side. And I’ll prove to you that I won’t change my ways. If I have to keep standing here fifty-nine days!” The South-Going Zax countered that he could stay fifty-nine years at that point both were trying to save face to prove a point.

Teaching children how to manage conflicts constructively I believe is the best way to ensure a more peaceful world in the future. Children’s literature can be a helpful resource in conveying skills and lessons on conflict resolution. What other books would you recommend for teaching conflict resolution? Let me know.

 

Have a Good Week,

Abigail R.C. McManus

Guest Blogger / Co-Host

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THE TEXAS CONFLICT COACH: CELEBRATING CHANGE AND DISCOVERING NEW PATHS

TCC Congrats CakeThis month, April 2017, marks the Texas Conflict Coach global radio program’s 8th anniversary. I have had the joy of meeting and learning from guest experts around the world; mentor graduate students from the University of Baltimore and Salisbury State University in Maryland; and work side-by-side with Hosts, Zena Zumeta, Stephen Kotev, Tracy Culbreath, and Abigail McManus. And finally, receiving the guidance from Advisory Board members Lou Geisel from Maryland Association of the Conflict Resolution Office (MACRO) and Cinnie Noble with CINERGY Coaching in Canada. Shawn Tebbetts, the Executive Assistant, proved to be invaluable to keeping all of us organized and working through the details.

Starting in May 2017, I am retooling and making program changes to provide more effective and valuable content to our listeners and viewers. During this transition, we will re-broadcast each month well-liked episodes straight from our archives, and we will produce live episodes, Conflict Chat: Ripped from the Headlines focused on discussing the current conflicts we read in the news. Abigail McManus, a guest blogger, along with me, will publish weekly blog posts focused on conflict management topics to help you reflect and apply concepts.

Periodically, we will host a special guest or event episode. You can access over 315+ podcasts on a variety of topics related to conflict management for families, workplace organizations, kids, and schools, neighbors, religious communities, etc. ANYTIME and ANYWHERE! You can listen and learn from a variety of sources including www.texasconflictcoach.com, our Texas Conflict Coach YouTube channel, or through iTunes, Stitcher Radio, FM Player, and Google Play.

This month, you can listen to my inaugural episode focused on what motivated me to begin this journey as well as what I have learned about engaging in interpersonal conflict in Being in Conflict: Lessons Learned from a Conflict Management Practitioner. Rose Gordon returns with Encouraging Restorative Community Conversations with the Comfort Zone, Discomfort Zone, and the Alarm Zone in Mind!

I want to extend a huge hug and share my appreciation for everyone’s support over the years. You might have been an avid listener, a guest, a fan or a supporter. Whatever your role, thank you for sharing in our success and our mission to educate the everyday person on how to embrace conflict constructively and courageously!

Stay tuned for future developments and new program content.

Pattie Porter

Founder and Host

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Switching Roles: Constructive Conversations between Elder Parent’s and Adult Children

people-1394377_1920One of my favorite shows currently streaming on Netflix is Grace and Frankie, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as quirky friends navigating through their later years together. In one episode, Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin) simultaneously throw out their backs and struggle to get to the phone to call for help. The next episode begins with one of Frankie’s sons giving both characters’ medical alert buttons to wear around their necks in case of an emergency. The remainder of the show follows the women as they grapple with aging and the reality of their situations.

The episode resonated with me as my grandparents who live on their own have experienced some health issues recently, and the family has discussed plans of action regarding their living situation and lifestyle.

There comes a time in the cycle of life when the parent and the child seem to switch roles. The elder parent finds their adult children now taking care of them, telling them how best to live their life, and encouraging them to consider the dreaded idea of “assisted living.” Adult children just want the best for their parents but find their parent’s resistance to being frustrating and burdensome to their life. How can adult children approach conversations with their elderly parent’s about getting older so that they are constructive and won’t cause damage to the relationship?

  1. Be Respectful. Getting older is an adjustment, suddenly things don’t work like they use to and figuring out to manage those changes can be difficult. Be mindful of your tone and how you are speaking to your adult parent. Speaking to your parent like they are a child can be humiliating for them and make them feel worse about the situation.
  2. Listen to what’s not being said. Admitting to your adult child that you are struggling with your daily routine may be hard. Your parent may state their challenges in less direct ways, so pay attention and actually to listen to what they are saying.
  3. Find solutions together. Including your elderly parent’s in decisions regarding their care is important so that they feel empowered. You could say, ” Mom, I know it is important to you to continue living on your own, but I’m worried about you falling again. What are some possible solutions we can think of that with meet both of our needs?” However, in some cases, elder parents cannot fully participate in these discussions so working collaboratively with other members of the family such as siblings is important to find the best solution for all parties involved.
  4. Consult professionals. Sometimes knowing if you are making the right decision can be challenging, therefore, consulting with an Elder Care Specialist may provide you and your family with the guidance you need to move forward.
  5. Check out additional resource outlets. Over the course of the last eight years, we have had experts on our program discuss how to manage the delicate relationship between aging parents and their adult children. One program with Carolyn Rodis examines how to get your aging parents and adult siblings to communicate more productively. This excellent program and others can all be located in our podcast library under Family and then Elder Care.

Getting older can be a sensitive time for both elderly parents, their adult children, and key family members. Learning to navigate through that period in a constructive manner is necessary to maintain a healthy relationship and keep all parties happy.

 

Have a Great Week,

Abigail R.C. McManus

Guest Blogger/ Host

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Conflict Chat ….An Old and New Narrative – Sexual Harassment

Listen LIVE on April 25th at 7:00 pm CST at Blog Talk Radio. Call in to speak with our host Pattie Porter and guest host, Abigail R.C. McManus,  (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

Discussion Topics:

Travis Kalanick Pushes Uber and Himself to the Precipice

Bill O’Reilly Let Go from Fox News Channel Amid Sexual Harassment Claims

FX Television Series – Feud: Bette and Joan

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Encouraging Restorative Community Conversations with the Comfort Zone, the Discomfort Zone and the Alarm Zone in Mind!

 

Rose Gordon- 1Abigail - smallerOften our Alarm bells go off, blood pressure rises and our capacity to listen stops, when we hear ideas and opinions that seem radically different than ours.  What techniques can we use to increase trust and create the foundation for truly Restorative Conversations?  How might we create an environment that encourages people to listen deeply and speak openly?  Join Rose Gordon, Restorative Justice Facilitator, in exploring these questions and tips for facilitating conversations that can make a difference.

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Being in Conflict: Lessons Learned from a Conflict Management Coach

 

Pattie8zena ZumetaConflict opportunities present itself in various ways. Often, we don’t notice the impact of seemingly unimportant off-putting comments we make to others or the disagreements which brew in our minds leading to something bigger than it is. The key is communication and checking our assumptions about each other’s motives and intentions instead of labeling, blaming and sitting in our hurt.

The Founder and Host of the Texas Conflict Coach®, Pattie Porter, chats with special guest host Zena Zumeta about the lessons learned in how to embrace conflict constructively, courageously and with compassion.

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