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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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The Insincere Apology: How to Authentically Acknowledge

apologuI come from an extended family that argues and engages conflict frequently. Recently, I began mapping out the seating chart for my upcoming wedding, and I ran into several placement issues due to pending conflicts between different members of my extended family. I would like to believe that the members of my family would put on a happy face just for the occasion, but it is also a risk I am not willing to take. Now I am playing seating chart Jenga, in hopes that my strategically placed tables won’t collapse into a verbal sparring match between the members of my family. When I began at the University of Baltimore’s negotiation and conflict management program in the spring of 2013, I spent a lot of time analyzing my family and their clashes with one another throughout my time at the University of Baltimore. I have deduced one important point that often stands in the way of them reaching a resolution, an apology. Now just to be clear, my family is not the only group of people that struggle to achieve resolution due to a lack of apology. Most people that vent to me about their disagreements encounter this issue as well. The truth is most people struggle with saying I’m sorry, but why?

Many people may feel that saying I’m sorry is an admission of wrongdoing or defeat. We are headstrong about our values and beliefs, if someone is challenging us and offends us; we may see ourselves as the victim. We believe WE deserve the apology instead of being the one to give it. Most of us fail to realize the power a sincere apology can have on another person. I can remember at the University of Baltimore, my professors taught us that many arguments would see resolutions if one or both parties would just say sorry. Some situations where conflicts are deep rooted, one sincere apology may not be enough, but it has the potential to be a building block to moving in the right direction.

How can a person give a sincere apology?
1. Recognize that by saying you’re sorry you are not admitting defeat or conceding that you did something wrong entirely. It is important to remember that all parties in every conflict contribute in some form. Perhaps you did not initiate the fight first, but once you got angry, you made hurtful remarks, which further escalated the disagreement. Apologize for your contribution.

2. Leave out the “but” in your apologies. I have had apologies said to me in the past that start off well then once they say I’m sorry, they follow it with “but I reacted this way because you did [fill in the blank].” The apology loses all sincerity once a person tacks on what they believe to be a justifiable reason for engaging in their bad behavior. Apologize but leave off any excuse for why you said or behaved the way you did.

3. Acknowledge their feelings. When someone has upset us, we are not typically looking for just an “I’m sorry”; we want our feelings recognized. We need to know that the other person is aware of what has upset us and that they are not just saying words to dismiss the conflict.

I often wonder if my family members would have sincerely apologized at the start of several of their feuds if they would have a resolution now? My hope is that at my wedding all my family members can come together and be civil, but if any arguments were to break out, fortunately, I will know how to handle them!

If you want to know hear more about Apologies and Forgiveness check out these podcasts:

Transforming Conflict Through Forgiveness and Forgiveness: The Gift You Give To Yourself

Abigail Clark M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management
Apprentice

Permission and credit for Clip Arts

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Forgive NOW or you’ll pay for it LATER

GrudgeAre you one who finds it hard to forgive someone that has done you wrong?  OR are you one who holds grudges for weeks, months, or even years? If you answered YES to either of the questions LISTEN UP – According to WebMD, Holding a grudge can be bad for your health: 

·         Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, PhD, lead researcher in the study believes that failure to forgive can weaken a person’s health.

·         When people think about their offenders in unforgiving ways, they tend to experience stronger negative emotions and greater [physiological] stress responses,” Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, PhD,

·         “When I treated patients with cardiovascular disease, I was struck by how many were bitter, angry, and depressed,” Joseph Neumann, PhD.

·         Subjects imagining incidents where they didn’t forgive someone perspired more and had faster heart rates, higher blood pressures, and more distressed facial gestures than forgivers did.

·         Others are finding that bitterness affects the healing rates of cardiovascular patients and their overall sense of wellness

Not only does holding a grudge take a toll on your health but it also can affect your mood.  One can display the following behaviors: anger, resentment, rage, bitterness, revenge, regret, sorrow, shame, remorse, or disappointment.  

Say goodbye to grudges and hello to Forgiveness.  Forgiveness is “a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you”.  Forgiveness can release you from bondage.  When you forgive not only are you able to possibly live a care-free life, but the one whom hurt you can do the same. 

For additional information on how to create a better you by forgiveness check out Dr. LaVena Wilkin’s talk on Forgiveness: The Gift You Give Yourself.

By Yvette Watson Jenkins           

Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

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Transforming Conflict Through Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a powerful tool for clients who are up against difficult, and seemingly insurmountable, conflicts. It creates a pathway from conflict to a deeper place of understanding and compassion. Because Forgiveness integrates all levels of conflict — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual–it uniquely enables clients to experience the opportunity for transformative healing that is latent in every challenging conflict. Learn more about how to work with Forgiveness to help clients in your practice.

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Forgiveness: The Gift You Give Yourself

Holding on to resentment is like hauling around a red-hot coal with the intention of one day throwing it back at the one who hurt you. The coal burns not only your hands, but also your hearts. The burden of blame and anger causes pain, heartache, and possible health problems for the person carrying them. Forgiveness is a powerful tool that can replace anger, blame, and discontent with hope, joy, peace, and contentment. Learn how to take the first step on the path toward forgiveness and emotional freedom.

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