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Cat Fight: Strategies for Disarming Bullying

cat fightI joined a graduate chapter of a very prestigious women’s organization. I was extremely active and financially supportive during my tenure. So you can imagine my shock when two ladies approached me at a group event one day and tried to get all cat fight and “I don’t like you just because” on me. I went from all smiles to being very disappointed about their poor behavior. It was at that moment that I realized that these women were actually trying to bully me.

When you belong to a prestigious organization there are rules that govern a member’s actions and interactions. So to keep in line with those rules, I was lady-like in the face of their bullying behavior. I really wanted to spew out the salt fire pumice that laid on the tip of my tongue onto them but instead, I slowed down the very essence of time by using the fullness of my dark brown eyes to pause the moment. So with a cold hard stare, I slowly invited them to enjoy the rest of the event.

This action did de-escalate the tension in the room and it did give me space to respond in a centered, grounded and empowered manner. I guess Louise and William Senft would say that I was “Being Relational with a Bully”. I know that this seems counter intuitive, but that technique actually worked. After I de-escalated the situation, I knew that I needed to gain perspective of what needed to be done next. I also pulled a little real-life wisdom from my big brother, Mirum.

Now my brother, who was an amazing fashion designer, was extremely funny and wise. During Fashion Week at his college he would often use me as a model for his clothing line. Before hitting the runway he would whisper “Don’t forget to flair your skirt honey.” Let’s envision that the skirt represented the national organization and the chapter represented the pockets that held the monthly dues. Hold that picture in your mind, now visualize that the members in good standing (like me) are the coins and the members acting poorly are the holes in the pockets of the skirt.

Expanding this conflict allowed me to see the financial interest of both the chapter and the national organization. At first, I just saw the ladies trying to be systematically mean toward me and others, but when I expanded the conflict, I noticed how their bullying behavior hurt our chapter as a whole. As a result, I took my grievance and documentation along with my account of my volunteer and financial support to the chapter president and asked; “Is this type of behavior reflective of this chapter?” Long story short, the “cat fight” for me was over! From that point forward those girls were busy with a whole new set of issues that eventually involved them, the chapter president and the national office.
In the end, my response was effective, but it also was a process. If you can keep the following tools in mind, you can create enough space and perspective to work on a possible solution for you too. Those tools are:

Deescalate the situation the best you can. I used a pause and stare.
Take time to respond, meaning just pause to think before you speak
Expand your view of the conflict. This means to do your best to identify the interest of all parties involved and look at the whole picture. Take a moment to objectively look at the entire situation.

Until next time, happy living everybody

Lauren Thompson Andrews
Graduate Student Intern
University of Baltimore – Conflict Negotiation/ Conflict Management

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Right Talk Math

Right Talk + You= Empowered Self Talk

self talk2

If you’re in a family unit that has various levels of conflict, learning how to do Right Talk Math can truly be a life saver. This formula is a template that allows you to sort out, identify and plug-in to:

  • The feelings ( ie. happy, fulfilled, confidence) that are connected to Right Talk
  • The words that are connected to Right Talkers and
  • The understanding of who and where the Right Talkers are in our life

An example of a Right Talker is a person who speaks to your highest good and your best potential for now and for your future. A Right Talker may say something like, “you can do it,” or “I know it’s hard right now but all will be well. “

When you choose to value and listen to Right Talk what you actually are doing is Right Talk Math. Meaning you are adding purposefully the right or positive talk into your consciousness. This right talk allows you to set up an empowering or meaningful, confident and self- assured internal dialogue script. This internal dialogue turns into self- talk. For those of us who have constructed or try to construct a positive self -dialogue, we will most likely have positive thoughts flood our minds when we need it most. Now, that’s not a guarantee, but if you take a common sense view on this, the more Right Talk you put in, the more positive self- talk that comes out, that’s just simple math.

So let’s say you’re going for a new job and you need every ounce of confidence you have within you. If you’ve done Right Talk Math, then your thoughts or internal dialogue will flood your mind with thoughts like the following; “Yes, I can do this.” Or “ I am more than capable for this job.” However, if you’ve plugged Wrong Talk into your formula, then you may think thoughts like the following: “I’m not good enough.” Or “I know I’m not going to get this job.” Or “I’m not that smart so why should I go for this opportunity?”

The bottom line is that self- talk is happening to all of us, so making the decision to plug in Right Talk over Wrong Talk can truly empower your future. Now If you are waiting for me to call Right Talkers good people and Wrong Talkers bad people, don’t hold your breath. This formula is not for judging others, it’s strictly for you to identify those who speak empowered feelings (ie. happy, fulfilled, confidence) into your life.

If you can proactively identify who is feeding you Right Talk, you can construct (on purpose) your future positive Self- Talk. What I’m sharing with you is better than gold, so take note and start doing your math. Who in your family (or in your life) gives you that empowered Right Talk? Whoever it is, plug in and get as much of it as possible.

The secret of this time travel formula, is that it allows you to harness empowered self -talk today for your future self tomorrow. Until next time, Happy living everybody.


Lauren Thompson Andrews

Graduate Student Intern

University of Baltimore – Conflict Negotiation/ Conflict Management

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