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When Change Happens: Celebrating a Fresh Start

Coffee Station

Photo by Patricia M. Porter

If you have been reading my latest blog posts on managing change, you might wonder how the new neighborhood coffee house is doing since they opened. La Taza Java Coffee house re-opened in early July under a new owner, Corrina Perez. Corinna, a regular customer of La Taza for years, like myself, made a big leap of faith and a decision to keep our local gathering place from closing forever. With anticipation, I stepped into the shop, it had familiarity, and yet it changed. Things were different. It had a fresh and clean look, a wall removed creating an open feel, and they chose a local artist to feature her paintings along the walls. Even the coffee beans and food product lines changed. Corrina is all about partnerships and community building which means fresh bagels from another locally and family owned business, Bagel Factory. I recall feeling good about the changes, and Corrina greeted me warmly as I entered the shop. I even saw familiar faces, so it felt comforting.

With any change and transition, we first need to recognize the past before accepting and celebrating the new. The local customers along with the previous owner, Judy Hanley, hosted a goodbye party. Then, you know from my last blog post When Change Happens: Maneuvering Through The Unknown that there is a second transition with a period of confusion, delay and sometimes lack of communication. Once we move through this zone, then the path becomes clearer. In the third transition of change management, we engage in celebrating a fresh start. This beginning comes with new systems or ways of doing things. For example, Corrina set up a self-serve coffee station along with fresh cold brew coffee. In the past, I would run a tab paid in advance. Although Corrina did not have a system in place for this, she immediately inquired about this process and demonstrated a desire to understand and meet the needs of her customers. She is now considering a couple of options for frequent coffee drinkers. As I approached the self-serve coffee station, I lightly joked with another long-time customer that it would take some visits to learn the revised ways and taste the new products.

What does it take to implement new changes in your life or business successfully?

  • Recognize everyone transitions at a different pace with some embracing change quickly, others reluctantly moving forward and yet a few individuals refusing to let go of the traditional ways.
  • Keep listening for concerns, unmet needs, and confusion. Acknowledge for that individual what you heard as important to them.
  • Be honest and transparent in your communications. It is critical to moving through the usual chaos that comes with big
  • Check and change your attitude. Ruminating in negativity keeps you stuck in the past. Demonstrating a neutral or positive attitude helps you move forward through the transitions.
  • Show You might be super excited about the fresh start and wonder why everyone is not experiencing the same excitement. Be curious, ask questions such as “What is keeping you back there?” or “What are you giving away with this new change?”

Celebrating a fresh start is more about a psychological shift in how we think and feel about the change. Mark the occasion with another event like a celebratory gathering with friends or family, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and in the case of La Taza Java Coffee House, an Open House to announce to the community, we are here and ready to serve you. Stay tuned at La Taza Java Coffee House Facebook page for the Open House event.

Patricia M. Porter, LCSW

Conflict Management Expert

 

 

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“That’s None of Your Business” – Setting Limits with Nosy People

sculpture-2209152_1920We have all met nosy people in our lives. Nosy people ask intrusive and sometimes rude questions, they overstep boundaries, and they tend to make others feel uncomfortable. What I find interesting is in situations where I am speaking with a nosy person, they don’t seem all that interested in my responses on the subject just in how the information I provide effects them.

For example, I have a nosy coworker; I will call her Dana. Dana has been training another coworker; I will call her Sandy. Sandy and I have an established relationship as I worked with her previously at another company. Since we have a relationship, Sandy feels comfortable coming to me if she is struggling with a particular issue, to get my guidance or perspective. Last week, Sandy was in my cubicle, and Dana walked by and jokingly asked if we were gossiping, to which we laughed and said “No” as we weren’t. Dana then left for her lunch break, upon returning she then proceeded to ask me what we were discussing and if it was about her. I have found myself in this situation with Dana many times, where she boldly asks about my conversations with other coworkers and even our boss.

When this incident occurred last week, I recognized that I was getting triggered by Dana’s intrusive question. I became mindful of my annoyance, and I felt the strong urge to bite my tongue to avoid saying anything that could escalate a conflict or that I would regret. Once Dana walked away I reflected on this, why did Dana’s question trigger such a strong emotional response from me? I felt irritated because I value privacy.  Dana assumed she’s entitled to this information and she seems to lack of awareness that it is none of her business what I discuss with my coworkers or boss. Once I acknowledged why I felt triggered, I was able to determine what I can do next time I am faced with a nosy intrusion – not just from Dana but anyone.

Don’t lash out. The question they are asking can be rude and inappropriate. It can be natural to respond in the same fashion. However, as I mentioned before, negatively responding could cause a conflict to escalate and make the situation worse.

Change Subjects or Postpone. If you are uncomfortable, try to shift the topic to something different. Ask them a question about something unrelated to take the spotlight off of you. Or, postpone responding altogether by saying, ” Would you mind if we discuss this later? I am in the middle of something that I need to finish.”

Be honest. Vocalize to the person what you are feeling and be truthful in how you respond. You could say, “Dana, I know you like to be included, and yet, I feel it is intrusive when my private conversations are being interrupted by your need to know all that is said. I assure you that I am not talking about you or gossiping.”

Have a “go to” response. Prepare a generic response for when you get asked a meddlesome question and keep it short. You could say, ” I feel uncomfortable talking about private matters.”

Respond to the question, with a question. I thought this might be the best course of action with Dana. Next time she asks about what I was discussing with a coworker, I can respond by asking, “Say more as to why this is important for you to know my conversations.” If she responds that She wanted to know “if we were talking about her?” I could ask, ” What makes you believe we were talking about you?” By doing this, it takes the attention off of you and puts it back on the asker. However, be mindful of your tone to make sure you don’t sound defensive, or angry.

Family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, complete strangers, all have the potential to ask nosy questions, knowing how to respond and handle those encounters constructively can make an uncomfortable situation more pleasant.

 

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

Guest Blogger

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Managing College Roommate Conflict in Small Spaces- Do and Don’t Tips

argue-1Roommate conflict in college can be difficult whether you choose one another or matched randomly. Navigating through disputes constructively is a must-have skill. My freshmen year of undergrad I lived on-campus. I was planning to live on-campus all four years, but by the end of my spring semester, I had decided to move home and finish out my undergrad education as a commuter. I made this decision based on several reasons, but my ultimate deciding factor was my roommate Bianca.

The university housing department chose my roommate and throughout the fall semester, Bianca and I got along great! Once we returned from winter break, though, our roommate relationship took a drastic turn.

Bianca and I had signed a roommate agreement required by the university at the start of freshmen year that outlined what we expected from each other. Some examples of our agreement were:

  • If you plan on having your significant other stay the night, ask your roommate beforehand.
  • Quiet time will be between 3 pm – 5 pm and 7pm-9pm, during these periods, noise levels must be kept low.
  • Respect one another’s belongings and space.

Bianca broke all three in the second semester. She initially asked if her boyfriend could stay, but then she stopped asking once his visits became more frequent. Bianca started having friends in our dorm room during quiet time, where they watched television, played games, and listened to music. During the second semester, Bianca and I were taking statistics with the same strict professor at different times. The professor during exams allowed us to use our class notes for reference. Bianca, who had been skipping class to hang out with her boyfriend, asked to borrow my notes to copy before one of the exams, I reluctantly agreed wanting to avoid a confrontation. I later discovered that rather than copying my notes, she took them to class with her and used them. Luckily, my teacher did not find out or both she and I would have failed.

I should note, at this time in my life, I was not comfortable with confrontation and usually tried to avoid it at all costs. By the end of the second semester, I was miserable and driving home every chance I could because of my unwillingness to address my roommate problems.

Unfortunately, bad college roommate stories come a dime a dozen. Now, I have acquired knowledge of how to manage conflict constructively, and I am going reflect on what I could have done to better my situation. Hopefully, if you find yourself in a similar situation these Do and Don’t Tips can assist you!

  • DO talk to your roommate, DON’T avoid confrontation.
    • If Bianca and I spoke when the issues started, I could have made her aware that I was bothered, and we could have resolved them. Instead, I avoided addressing my grievances and as a result, I was miserable and annoyed.
  • DO be honest and upfront, DON’T sidestep your concerns, needs, and wants.
    • I should have been honest and upfront with Bianca when we first started living together about my pet peeves. I refrained from disclosing them because I did not want her to think I was a high maintenance, roommate.
  • DO have a roommate agreement. DON’T assume you and your roommate value the same things and think the same way.
    • Even though our roommate agreement was unsuccessful, I still believe that it is important to have one, that way everything is on paper and neither you nor your roommate can claim you did not know.
  • Do include specific details into your Roommate Agreement with solutions, DON’T make your Roommate Agreement too general.
    • Make sure to add to your Roommate Agreement that each of you will raise issues with the other before they fester. If issues cannot be resolved, then roommates agree to talk with the Resident Assistant (RA) together.
  • DO enlist your Resident Assistant (RA) if necessary. DON’T avoid seeking out their advice because you think it is tattling.
    • RA’s are there for a reason, even if you don’t want them to intervene you can still get great tips from them on how to best address a bad situation.

I could have had a much different college experience had I addressed issues as they arose instead of avoiding them and letting them fester.

Abigail Clark M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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Facing Ourselves in Times of Conflict- The Power of Self-Reflection

brainsI am an inquisitive person. I think it is important to ask why, because I believe knowing and understanding why things and people act and behave the way they do furthers learning of the world around you. When you ask the question why, it allows you to hear the facts, draw your conclusions and apply the synthesized information into other areas of your life.

Merriam-Webster defines self-reflection as “careful thought about your own behavior and beliefs”. Self-Reflection is taking a step back from yourself and looking inward. I had been a self-reflector even before I knew there was a term for what I was doing. I have always been curious as to why I behaved or thought a certain way. I believe many people struggle with self-reflection because it is scary to admit our shortcomings. Recognizing our flaws, makes them real for us and many of us shy away from self-reflection. I am not one to shy away. I think self-reflection is essential in my life to keep myself in check.

2012 was not my best. I gained thirty pounds; I was in a different graduate school program that I did not want to be in, and my self-esteem was low. I was unhappy and negative. I had internal conflict which impacted my attitude, reactions and behaviors with others. I started asking why I felt this way through journaling. It was the most therapeutic part of my transformation process. Journaling allowed me to express and put on paper what I was thinking and feeling. I analyzed why I pursued my Masters in the first place? Why I had gained thirty pounds? Why I felt envious of my friends? As a result of journaling and self-reflection, I was able to work through these internal conflicts and I concluded it was time for a change.

I applied and enrolled into a different graduate program, started working out and eating better, and slowly my life began to change. I know journaling is not for everyone, but it allowed me to look inward and analyze myself and my behavior. I wrote when I was angry, when I was happy, when I was sad, and I began to take inventory of how I responded in those situations; and then I started to brainstorm how I could do better.

Self-Reflection Strategies:

Think about these questions as it pertains to the internal conflict you are experiencing.

#1 – Be honest.

  • What are you not speaking aloud that you know to be the truth of the situation you find yourself experiencing?
  • What is it you are embellishing in your story to others?

#2 – Be vulnerable.

  • What emotions are you experiencing right now?
  • What is causing you to feel that emotion?
    • For example: When you fought with your spouse over not taking the trash out, were you angry about that or were you taking your frustration from work out on him?

#3 – Be tough.

  • How did I contribute to this dispute?
  • What could I have done differently?
  • What will I work on to prepare for next situation I encounter?

I am my harshest critic and asking myself these questions allows me to take responsibility, look at myself from another perspective, critique my behavior, and generate solutions to do better next time.

I believe self-reflection is necessary for anyone looking to address his or her internal conflict. I often say that no one can ever tell me something about myself that I haven’t already thought. My goal in life is to be the best version of myself and self-reflection is crucial to achieve success. I challenge anyone with this common purpose to do the same and find the power of self-reflection.

Abigail Clark- M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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