Login | Contact

Striving for Change in an Imperfect World Starts with Yourself – An Honest Reflection

perfect-948197_1920-1Our society is obsessed with perfection, and though it is something to strive for, it has proven time and time again to be an unattainable goal. I decided two years ago that I would stop putting pressure on myself to be “perfect.” Instead, I focus on my shortcomings and try little by little to improve those traits. I think it is important to keep yourself in check, own up to your flaws and actively try to improve upon them to grow as a human being.

I often debate with others about the human capacity for change. Can people change their ways? The resounding response to that question is usually “no.” I have asked that question several times, and most people believe that once someone’s behaviors are set they will remain that way. I disagree with this response as I optimistically believe in a human’s capacity for change. I also think that if more people took the time to evaluate their shortcomings and actively try to improve them rather than pointing the finger at others for their issues, our society would be in a much better place.

I began journaling recently about my inadequacies with a narrowed focus on my ineffective conflict reactions. I write down day-by-day where I fell short and what I could do better the next day. I believe if I am more self-aware of my triggers, my reactions, my behaviors I can actively adjust these traits so that they will cease to be an issue in the future. If I am completely honest, I will tell you that that the thought of passing on some of my more negative flaws on to my future children terrifies me, and so, I use that too as a driving force to actively change my ways.

So where do we begin? Make a list, an honest list about all your shortcomings in general, or narrow your focus to where you are flawed when engaging and addressing conflict. My common flaws are listed below:

* Patience – While this is a trait I have improved on immensely, I still struggle with remaining patient. I noticed my lack of patience showing particularly at work when someone is struggling to understand something that I have explained several times.

Solution: Take deep breaths. Use my breaths to calm myself and look at the situation from the other person’s perspective.  While I might type out very detailed instructions, someone might need me to walk them verbally through it for them to understand.

* Defensive – I take a lot of things personally, which I believe is because I overthink everything. I also tend to feel that everyone is out to get me, which is simply not true. So when someone critiques me, I first response is to jump into defensive mode.

Solution: I need to be mindful when I feel myself becoming defensive. My body has a physical response; I cross my arms; I feel my muscles tighten. When this happens I need to ask myself, why am I becoming defensive? Is it justified?

* Outspoken/ Loud – I have a tendency to say the first thing that pops into my head without giving it much thought. Again, I have improved on this a lot, but I still have ways to go. I also raise my voice when I get upset which can cause others not to listen to me.

Solution: Bite my tongue and think before I speak. I currently will take deep breaths, and think to myself, “What am I trying to say here? Could this be offensive?” If it is something I want/need to say I will evaluate how I say it before I do which allows me to deliver a message in the best way possible.

* Clarification – I assume things way more than I can to admit. I assume things based on expectations that I have and don’t ask for clarification. When situations don’t pan out the way I assumed they would, I find myself frustrated and a lot of times in conflict.

Solution: Ask more clarifying questions and know all the details that way expectations can be managed.

Abigail R. C. McManus

Apprentice

 

Leave a Reply


Humbling the Conflict Intervener – A Reflection

mirror-1138098_1920The other day I mentioned in passing to a co-worker that my husband and I had a disagreement. She looked shocked and said, ” I didn’t think you and your husband fought, because of your degree in conflict management.” This scenario isn’t the first time I have received a shocked reaction from someone who knows of my degree. The truth is, I am excellent at assisting others in managing their conflicts, but my own can be a little more difficult.

I will provide you with an example of a recent dispute between my husband and me and my reflection after. Bernard, my husband and I have an adorable and ornery puppy named Alvin, who is seven months old. Bernard and I have different beliefs on how to discipline Alvin when he is acting up. Last Friday, Alvin began behaving badly, and Bernard disciplined “his way” without consulting me first. I immediately became furious and started yelling, because that is my knee-jerk reaction when in the heat of a conflict. When I yell, Bernard shuts down and refuses to speak on the subject unless we can talk about it calmly.

I was emotional, so all rational thinking went out the window. I couldn’t gain perspective because I was entirely too entrenched in the situation. I am also stubborn, so I was holding onto my feelings and beliefs very tightly. We moved on from the situation Friday night without a resolution because I could feel myself getting angry all over again every time I thought about the topic.

So yesterday, I reflected on the dispute so that I could pinpoint what I was feeling and thinking and then determine what a solution would be to move forward.

I asked myself first, ” What is really bothering me?”

It wasn’t that Bernard disciplined Alvin his way though I disagreed with his method. It was that he did it without discussing it with me first. I felt that I didn’t have a voice or that my opinion didn’t matter. I also felt that by him just going ahead and disciplining Alvin his way, he expected me just to go along with it.

I then asked myself, “What did I do poorly in this conflict?”

I think it is always important to take responsibility for your contribution in any disagreement you might have. I didn’t recognize my triggers or realize that I was getting more mad. I yelled, which is when the conflict stalled because I couldn’t talk calmly. I also was so worked up the rest of the weekend that it further prolonged the conflict. I was stubborn and even once I recognized the real issues I still had too much pride to give in and discuss them with Bernard.

Lastly, I asked myself “What could I do to move forward with this conflict and what could I do better next time?

I sent Bernard a text message, which I know may not be the best and most mature forum. However, I have found that sometimes having the ability to edit what I say is helpful. I explained my feelings and expressed my issues, and we planned to discuss the situation more when we see each other face -to- face. Next time, I think it is important for me to walk away from Bernard for a little bit so that I can compose my thoughts and my emotions. I also believe that it would be helpful for me to write down my thoughts and feelings in my journal or on the dry erase boards we keep in our kitchen, just so that I can see it rather than keeping it in my head.

I am not a perfect person, and just because I went to school for Conflict Management certainly does not mean I won’t be involved with disputes. It is important when in conflict to reflect, recognize your triggers and set goals to do differently next time.

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

Leave a Reply




  • Podcast Library

  • Subscribe by Email

    Join our mailing list to receive our newsletter and blogs!

  • Recent Posts