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Conflict Chat….Handling Intense Emotions and Rage

Pattie8Stephen Kotevclark.photo.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.

Discussion Topics:

“When you are emotionally hijacked like in the recent road rage incident and untimely death of NFL football icon, Will Smith, what do we learn about how we handle our intense rage and emotions?”

  1.  Will Smith Death Police Report
  2. Will Smith Death

Factors that Modulate Pain[display_podcast]

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A Spouse’s Revelation: Changing How You Phrase a Question Can Make All the Difference in the World

digital-art-398342_1920Will you please empty the dishwasher?” I asked my husband, Bernard one evening while I was preparing dinner.

Sure!” He said quickly to oblige.

The way I worded the question was something new I was trying for the past several weeks. I am a self-admitted nag and due to Bernard and I’s vastly different ways of managing tasks I found I was nagging him more which was causing conflicts.

Before getting married, I purchased a book written by Ruth E. Hazelwood titled, “The Challenge of being a Wife.” I bought the book on a day when I was having anxiety about failing in my role as a spouse; however, by the time the book arrived, my concerns must have dissipated because I never opened it before our nuptials. Flash forward to a month ago when I was becoming increasingly annoyed with the sound of my voice nagging my husband that I stumbled upon the book and decided to read it. It was eye-opening.

A passage that stood out to me that Hazelwood wrote is:

A wife who thinks her husband can’t do anything without her direction may soon find that he won’t do anything; he is just glad to have you take it all on, and you are left wondering what went wrong.

I recognized immediately after reading this passage that I constantly was giving my husband direction in the form of rhetorical questions without allowing him the opportunity to do things when he felt motivated. I’d say, ” You know the dishwasher needs to be unloaded?” or “The sink needs to be emptied.” I wasn’t confident that he would rise to the challenge without my direction – which his track record implied that he wouldn’t. When he wouldn’t do these tasks in the past, I would get angry, do the tasks myself, and then feel resentful towards him because of it.

I read that passage and felt enlightened. The chapter where that passage resides ends with a list of steps to assist in changing your behavior, so your husband feels more motivated to complete tasks on his own. One step that Hazelwood suggests is, “Be efficient in your areas. If you need his help, don’t demand; just ask, “Will you please…?” in a kind way.” I found I would plea or state what I needed and Bernard would either tune me out or ignore. Hazelwood stresses that husbands will ignore or tune you out because they want to demonstrate they are capable of managing their responsibilities without you. So I began to change how I worded my questions and delegated when I felt overwhelmed by household tasks. Changing from, “Why don’t you empty the dishwasher?” to “Will you please empty the dishwasher?” has made a world of difference in my household.

The last suggestion in Hazelwood’s list is, “Show appreciation.” Hazelwood explains, ” You must make him feel worthwhile and loved in order to motivate and bring out the best in him.” I recognize that just the slight change in how I word or phrase what I am saying to Bernard and then express appreciation when he completes the task has changed how quickly he responds to assisting me. He is more willing and motivated to do so, and our exchanges around completing household tasks have become much more pleasant and much less frustrating.

Husbands and Wives, I challenge you to take a look at how you are speaking to your spouse especially if you notice tension and conflict arise around these exchanges. Perhaps, making a slight change in how you word a question or statement can help improve your relationship.


Have a Great Week,

Abigail R.C. McManus

Guest Blogger/ Host

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Wedding Guest List Dilemmas – Strategies for Managing Potential Conflicts

wedding-1249096_1280There are a lot of important details that go into making your wedding day spectacular. The most important people on that day are, of course, the bride and groom; however, the guests you invite can also be key to making your day incredible. Who you invite and who you don’t invite can have a significant effect on your experience as well as you and your family’s relationships.

My husband Bernard and I had a large 200 person wedding. When we first started, we wanted to have between 130 to 150 guests, and as you can see, we went way over that. I started by asking my Mother-in-Law and my parents to form a list of the people they wanted to invite, and Bernard and I did as well. We then widdled the list down from there, and I will say the guest list/ seating chart was one of the most stressful details when planning our wedding.

Why was it stressful?

* Unless someone is a billionaire and footing the bill it just isn’t feasible to invite everyone you want to invite. Therefore, people must be cut. Deciding who would be getting cut sometimes felt like an episode of Survivor.

* Deciding who gets a plus one and who doesn’t. There is a rule that if a couple isn’t engaged or married, then you don’t have to give them a plus one. However, we have many friends who were not engaged or married, but seriously dating, so this became tricky.

* Everyone has an opinion; especially older people and they have no problem letting you know exactly what they think and feel. I found this to be especially true with the seating arrangements at the reception. My grandmother, and I had a heated exchange two weeks before the wedding over where I was sitting her side of the family at the reception. I also bumped into a friend of my mother’s the week of the wedding who requested I not sit her near her ex-boyfriend who would also be attending the wedding. Thankfully, I had already taken measures to ensure they were nowhere near one another.

How can you manage guest list/ seating chart conflicts?

* Charting your Guest List: I had our guests broken down into three categories, Must Invite, Should Invite, and Would be Nice to Invite. It is an excellent way to organize the guests and make easier judgment calls about who would be invited. When it came time to cut people it was pretty easy to wipe out the “would be nice” column and then discuss with our parents who from the other lists should be cut. 

*Plus One Decision: Bernard and I automatically gave plus ones to our bridal party and readers. Our other guests are where the plus ones became tricky. We arbitrarily picked who would be able to bring a plus one based on our relationship with that significant other. If the couple hadn’t been together long or we didn’t know the significant other, then we didn’t allow them a plus one.

* Seating Chart Board: There are several applications for organizing your seating chart online. However, I went old school and drew our seating layout onto a poster board and wrote our guest’s names on Post-It’s. Either option is nice because you can move people around as you see fit. The main thing to remember here is you cannot possibly please everyone; however, it is important that you take specific issues into account. I had several family members not speaking to one another, and I considered that when assigning guests to tables.  I also thought ahead about the couple I mentioned earlier who was no longer together, and I sat them on opposite sides of the room. Yes, people could suck it up for one evening, but I didn’t want to risk any problems escalating.

Guests and where you seat them could potentially be a high conflict issue but knowing how to manage those situations before they arise can make all the difference in the world!


Have a good week!

Abigail R.C. McManus



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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



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Managing Conflict at the Dog Park – Tips for Making it a Pawsitive Experience for You and Your Dog

Photo Credit- Abigail R.C. McManus

Alvin Dog Park Picture

My husband and I are the owners of a super energetic 8-month-old Bull Terrier named Alvin. We live in a rowhouse in Baltimore City so taking Alvin on walks and to our local dog park is essential for all of us to remain sane. The dog park in our area is very spacious with lots of room to run, and there are a substantial amount of dog owners in our area, so there is never a shortage of dogs with which Alvin can socialize.

Since we began going to the park, I have observed two conflicts that frequently arise, which has inspired me to write this post.

The first conflict I have observed is the distracted dog owner. Most of the owners at the park are very vigilant of their dogs. However, there have been a select few who are busy talking on their cell phones, socializing with other dog owners or their friends, or watching the games on the athletic field that are next to the dog park.  The issue with the distracted owners is that they miss their dog going to the bathroom, so they fail to pick up after their dogs. Or they miss their dog bothering other dogs, and they don’t step in to stop it, which sometimes leads to aggression among the dogs. I have heard some owners make passive aggressive comments towards these distracted owners. I have also observed owners have a tense exchanging of words over these issues.

Tip #1 Try not to make assumptions about the other owner. It may be difficult to do because you might assume they care less about their dog than you care about yours because they are not watching theirs as much. However, if you voice this assumption, the other owner will likely get defensive which could escalate issues.

Tip #2 Make the owner aware in a non-aggressive manner. Rather than saying, ” Your dog went to the bathroom over there can you pick it up?” You could politely interrupt them by saying, “Excuse me I saw your dog go to the bathroom over there, I just wanted to let you know.” If they didn’t see it, they would likely be thankful for making them aware as some owners can get snippy when another dog owner doesn’t pick up after their dog.

The second conflict I have observed is the inexperienced owner in the dog park. These dog owners become frazzled if another dog continues to mount or keeps gravitating towards their dog. The owners usually don’t understand that dogs play with each other by sparring and wrestling around. Dogs can sense when their owner is on edge or uneasy which can, in turn, make the dog feel the same way. An anxious dog can quickly turn into an aggressive dog if they not careful. Again, I have observed the inexperienced dog owners glare and make negative comments at other dog owners which have resulted in some heated exchanges.

Tip #1 Research before bringing your dog to the park. It is important that you understand how dogs interact and socialize with one another.  By doing this, you will be more prepared for the situations as they arise. Also, it is important to know your dog. If your dog is anxious or aggressive, bringing them to the dog park may not be the best option as other dogs may increase these traits and potentially cause issues with other dogs.

Tip #2 Socialize with the other dog owners. Ask, “Is your dog friendly?” before allowing your dog to interact with theirs. Or if the dogs begin sparring, check-in with the other owners to make sure they are okay with it. Just by doing this can alleviate potential tensions at the dog park.

It is important to remember that pet owners consider their pets as part of the family and thus they can be very protective over them. Learning how to handle conflicts constructively with other pet owners can ensure happiness and safety for your pet.

If you would like to hear more tips for conflicts involving pet’s/pet owners check out our archived podcasts here: Animals-Pets


Abigail R.C. McManus


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Tick.. Tick.. Tick – Addressing Time Management Difference before they Explode.

appointment-15979_1920 One of the ways my husband Bernard and I differ is our time-management skills. I always get things completed on time or earlier; same goes for arriving at appointments and events.   Bernard, on the other hand, is usually if not always late on getting things completed and arriving at places. The difference between our time-management skills has always been something we have been aware of, and it has always driven me nuts.

When we began dating, Bernard would tell me he would be at my house at 7:30 to pick me up and then wouldn’t show up until almost 8:00, this drove me crazy.  I would become angry because I felt like he didn’t value my time. There were some instances where I would stop what I was doing to get ready and then I would find myself waiting around for him when I could have prolonged getting ready a little longer. I also became annoyed because I didn’t have control over when he would get there. Even if I sent him a dozen reminder text messages, he still was in control of when he arrived. Since I am a bit of a control-freak, this never sat well with me.

After fighting about his tardiness on several occasions, I decided to make some changes as these fights would often put a damper on the evening or cause stress and tension between us. I started adding fifteen to twenty minutes onto when he said he’d arrive and using my fixed time rather than the time he gave me to determine when I’d start getting ready. So if he’d say he would be there by 7:30, I would start getting ready at 7:30 and prepare for him to arrive at 7:50ish. The other change I made was I started driving to his house so that I could be more in control of the situation.

The difference in our time-management skills also came very much to light when we were getting ready to send out our wedding invitations. We assigned one another different tasks to complete for the wedding and Bernard was in charge of the wedding invitations. I am the type of person that enjoys completing tasks ahead of schedule so that I can cross it off my list and relieve some of the stress from my life. Bernard is a procrastinator. Therefore, when the deadline was quickly approaching to send out our invitations and Bernard had not begun to complete the task I became very frustrated.

I became disgruntled because I had asked him if he wanted me to do the wedding invitations since he was busy with work and he told me no that he still wanted to do them. He continued to put off the invitations until the last minute, rather than asking for help which increased tension between us. Now, I am aware I could have just jumped in and completed the task myself and saved he and I both from a lot of tension, however, my “micromanaging” had been a heavily discussed topic throughout our engagement, so I was trying not to do that.

While our invitations were sent out by the date, we assigned, Bernard didn’t complete them until the evening before they were due out. In this scenario, neither of us utilized excellent conflict-management skills; we fought every day up until we mailed the invitations. In hindsight, I can say we should have established better expectations as to when and how the invitations should be done. I should have expressed to Bernard how much stress the situation was causing me, without blaming him. Bernard should have expressed how overwhelmed he was with work so that we could have reevaluated our wedding task list.

Differing time-management skills no matter who it is with can cause turmoil. It is important to recognize when it is a trigger and what solutions can help manage it.

If you would like more time-management strategies, check out our latest program with Helene Segura .


Abigail R.C. McManus


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Conflict Chat with….Pattie Porter, Tracy Culbreath King and Abigail R.C. McManus


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.

Discussions Topics:

Negative Wedding Vendor Review

Demanding Bride


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Tips From The Wedding Lawyer On Preventing And Handling Wedding Conflicts

Christie AsselinTracy-Culbreathclark.photo.

Christie Asselin, the blogger and attorney behind YourWeddingLawyer.com will share tips designed to help engaged couples prevent and handle conflicts with wedding vendors. Christie has a background in business disputes and consumer law, and loves event planning and weddings. Her mission is to educate and empower engaged couples with legal know-how.


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Common Conflicts and Peace Practices for Engaged or Newlywed Couples

michelle-dan-cropped (2)


Are you currently, or soon to be, an Engaged or Newlywed Couple?  While this is an exciting time, it can also bring certain stresses that can be difficult to navigate. We will discuss common conflicts you may experience in your relationship at this stage, as well as peace practices and prevention techniques.  Join us to learn valuable tips to help you maintain the relationship of a lifetime!


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Maintaining Friendships in Adulthood – The Ups and Downs of Growing up


Muhammad Ali said, ” Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything“.

It took me a long time to truly understand the meaning of friendship. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens/ early twenties that I found a great group of friends that I could lean on and that had my back no matter what. A group of people that accepted me for who I was and never judged me. After a while, the lines between friends and family blurred, and they became one in the same.

When you are younger, your entire world seems to revolve around your buddies. But as we get older life happens, our responsibilities change, we grow up. Hanging out and interacting with our friends is no longer the top priority in our lives.

Recently, I have been feeling a little down about this realization. I have found myself feeling frustrated by my group of friends diminished time together. Though I continuously remind myself that this is how it goes, it doesn’t make it any less painful. I also have found myself becoming resentful because every time I attempt to make plans, I get a thousand reasons why they can’t get together and no solutions.

I recognize my feelings of frustration and resentment. I also acknowledge the vengeful part of me that wants to respond with a thousand reasons why I can’t get together next time they make a suggestion. However, that will not make things better.

So what I can I do to address this potential conflict in my life?

  1. Recognize my emotions, feelings, and shortcomings. The only way to grow and change is to be more self-aware. By looking inwards and holding myself accountable to even the negative emotions I am feeling is the first step to actually making changes.
  2. Manage expectations. I think part of my feelings stems from high expectations. I think I expected us to continue hanging out like we always had. I didn’t account for life happening. I have to remind myself that as we get older things will change, we may not be able to see each other all the time, and that is okay! It makes the time we do get to see each other that more special.
  3. Speak Up. My friends won’t know I am upset unless I speak up and voice my concerns. I have a rule that if you don’t communicate it you can’t be upset about it and carry it around. Approaching them in a non-aggressive way and use “I” statements instead of “You” statements can assist in alleviating the frustration I feel. Instead of saying, “You never answer your phone when I text you to hang out.” I could say, “I feel frustrated that every time I try to make plans to hang out I don’t get a response from you.”

Friendships are hard work and like any relationship they take time and energy to maintain, but if you know the meaning of friendship you know how important they are to your life.

Have a Good Weekend,

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


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