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Holiday Shopping List: Gift-Giving Made Easy for the Peace Lover in Your Life

shopping-565360_1920The holiday season is creeping into stores earlier, and earlier it would seem. By Thanksgiving, you almost feel like you are behind on your Christmas shopping. Well for this post we have compiled a list of our top gift choices for the peace in your life. Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be stressful, give a gift to bring peace and resolve conflict to your loved ones!

Holiday Shopping List

Books:

Minibük® Stop the Dreaded Drama: 55 Tips for Ending Destructive Conflict

Author: Pattie Porter

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Author: Thich Nhat Hanh

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

Author: Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen, forward by Roger Fisher

Being Relational: The Seven Ways to Quality Interaction and Lasting Change

Author: Louise Senft and William Senft

Stories Mediators Tell

Author: Eric R. Galton and Lela P. Love

Games:

Conflict Resolution 6″ Thumball

Smart Sharks – Art of the Deal: Conflict Resolution Card Game

Wish Deck

Movies:

Endgame

Starring: William Hurt and Chiwetel Ejiofor

Freedom Writers

Starring: Hilary Swank and Patrick Dempsey

The Interrupters

Directed by Alex Kotlowitz and Steve James

Have a safe and happy holiday!

 

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

Apprentice

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When the Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree- Tips and Strategies on How to Change your Default Settings

brainearserPrior to becoming privy to the constructive ways to approach, manage and resolve conflict, I handled disputes in the same manner of my parents. My parents always confronted conflict and to get their points across to one another they would yell. When I was younger, I promised myself that I would handle conflicts differently when I was in a relationship. However, when my fiancé and I got into our very first fight, what did I do? I confronted him, and I yelled. My fiancé did not know how to handle this situation and recoiled because he grew up in a different setting, where his parents did not confront their conflict head on and never yelled at one another.

I observed something about how we tackled conflicts from this situation; everyone has, what I like to call a default setting. A person’s default setting is how you instinctively respond to the conflict that typically mirrors your parents or the environment where you were raised. Anyone can change his or her settings with hard work though it may be difficult at first. Once I started in the Negotiations and Conflict Management program at the University of Baltimore, I began to incorporate the tools and skills I learned in class and applied them to my life.

What can you do to change your default setting?

  • Acknowledge that you have a default setting and be honest with yourself about your conflict management shortcomings. We like to deny certain truths and put the blame on others regarding our inadequacies. When I would shout at my fiancé, saying it was his fault I was yelling. If I were honest with myself, I would have recognized that I resembled my parent’s way of handling conflict. I chose to yell because that was the only way I thought he would hear me.
  • Clear up misunderstandings by checking assumptions. We all see, hear, and interpret the world differently. We make assumptions about what is or isn’t being said and rarely ask for clarification. My parents could have easily resolved many of their arguments if they had asked for clarification and not assumed. Similarly, in my relationship, we would jump to conclusions or make assumptions about what the other person was saying or thinking which caused most of our disputes. Now, before I get upset I will say, “When you said you would take out the trash in a little bit, what did you mean by a little bit?”
  • Reframe and state your emotions. Emotions are what cause conflicts to escalate. My parent’s arguments were highly emotional because both of them would be angry, annoyed, hurt, etc. My fiancé and I’s arguments were always emotional because I can be overly sensitive. I would yell because I was mad, or cry because I was frustrated. In the book Difficult Conversations, by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen, I learned “I feel” statements. Using these statements helps you to acknowledge and take ownership of the emotion rather than placing the blame on the other person. Now I say, “ I feel frustrated that the trash hasn’t been taken out” rather than yelling, “You said you would take the trash out over an hour ago.”
  • Don’t automatically get defensive. Many times, we anticipate a fight, so we begin to put the boxing gloves on before we have the conversation. My dad dawdles when he knows my mom is mad, and he has to go home to face her. Anytime my fiancé and I were going to have a serious discussion; I would anticipate what he would say and plan my comebacks. Now, I go into every situation where a conflict could occur, reminding myself that we are teammates, not opponents.

While I do not believe our default setting entirely goes away, with perseverance we can challenge our default settings and create better and healthier habits to address conflict.

Abigail Clark M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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Sharing the Blame Game- Take Ownership Now

blamegameIn my first semester at University of Baltimore we were assigned a book to read called Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen. The book provides a step-by-step approach to working through difficult conversations. The entire book was fantastic, but one particular section was eye opening for me. The chapter discusses how people need to stop blaming others and instead assess how they have contributed to the conflict. Stone, Patton, and Heen urge readers to ask themselves, “how did I contribute to this problem?” At this time in my life I was involved in a conflict with a friend and I was not taking any responsibility for my actions. It was a huge breakthrough for me because I realized how often we blame others for the conflicts we face; we abandon ownership of our problems, but why? Perhaps because it is easier to throw up our hands and say, “I didn’t do anything wrong”, but this does not resolve conflicts, if anything it prolongs them.

In any conflict you face, whether with a significant other, boss, or friend begin by taking a step back and asking yourself “How did I contribute to this problem?” Dr. Patty Ann Tublin a contributor to Entrepreneurial Woman explains, “Conflict in our relationships cannot be created in a vacuum. At least two people are responsible for it when it enters our lives. Regardless of whether you started the conflict or you are allowing it to perpetuate, you have some personal responsibility for its presence in your relationship.” Maybe your husband forgot to stop and pick up the items you requested for dinner at the store, he gets home and this starts a fight because now you have nothing to make for dinner. Ask yourself what you could have done differently? Maybe you could have sent a reminder to him so he wouldn’t forget. Even small squabbles such as this can build resentment, if both parties do not take ownership.

Why do people avoid taking responsibility?

In an excerpt from Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith’s book, The Art of Waking People Up: Cultivating Awareness and Authenticity at Work found on Mediate.com they explain that, “everyone in conflict tells a story in which they are right and the other person is wrong.” Cloke and Goldsmith suggests that, “These accusatory, self-serving stories are designed to disguise and divert attention from the role they play in keeping the conflict going, and reinforce their defenses, justifications, countermeasures, and irreconcilable positions.” Stone, Patton and Sheen point out “The urge to blame is based, quite literally, on a misunderstanding of what has given rise to the issues between you and the other person, and on the fear of being blamed.” People are not fond of admitting to their shortcomings. But the fact of the matter is, we are all human and we all make mistakes. It is easier to point the finger at someone else when things go wrong. And it takes courage and strength to own up to your part in any given issue and in doing so, it assists you and the person your in conflict with move forward.

Why is taking ownership important?

Jeff Durham a contributor to Life Coach Expert points out, “ taking responsibility for our actions equals success. It also makes us feel good about ourselves and rids us of negative personality traits such as anger, fear, resentment, hostility and doubt.” It is essential to recognize your contribution to the conflict in order to move towards resolution. The other person in the conflict becomes more open to listening allowing both parties to see and understand why the conflict occurred, what improvements you need to make and how to prevent the problem from happening again. So, the next time you find yourself attacking or blaming others, stop, think and ask yourself “What did I do or say, however small, that contributed to the problem?” Refrain from justifications such as “I wouldn’t have done X, if they had not done Y.” And then, own it.

 

Abigail Clark

Graduate Student Intern

University of Baltimore

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