I’m trying to tell her but she just doesn’t get it. She brushes me off. I explain again. I try to make her see how crucial this is to me. I become more emphatic. She ducks and dodges and weaves from my finest arguments. Finally, I really am arguing and she is too. Our voices get louder and more and more sarcasm enters the picture. Finally we both are in full-fledged battle. We break apart……and lick our wounds.
It’s taken me a long time to understand how most of us have learned to communicate with one another. We learn from our parents. We learn from TV and the movies. But most of those experiences don’t really reinforce positive communication. From the media, movies, and TV world, positive communication is not good drama or entertainment. A most striking example is the English Parliament where insults and embarrassment appear to be the standard fare. The resolutions appear disappointing if people resolve things without acrimony.
Frequently when people discuss things, their focus can be on winning, scoring points, laying down the gauntlet, embarrassing their opponent. Sometimes it can manifest as absolute and total denial. People want to preserve their identity and their illusions, particularly about their own image. Especially in America where we definitely have a whole sports culture that says that winning is everything. Every issue is engagement.
In marriage, relationships, and sometimes the work world this doesn’t work well. We can’t run over our spouse, dominate our kids, and do whatever we want.
One way to have a more adult relationship is to be “continually & willfully mindful” of what we are saying and what we are doing. I call this CWM. When I fix this thought with a little axiom I can then fix it in my mind. This CWM can be hard to do since our upbringing has indoctrinated us by TV and Movies to act less than our best.
Recently(the past two years), I’ve been trying to not honor power, force, sarcasm, winning and self-righteous behavior. Not that I consciously honored them, that’s my point, but that I have been taught to honor them. I’ve been trying to pay attention to how I talk, how I sound, what I mean when I say certain things.
I’ve made a list of conflict resolution arguments that I stay away from. Most of this list if from TV, Movies and personal experience. It’s a lengthy list of “don’t do’s” for avoiding arguments and staying on track, getting what you want without resorting to boorish behavior. It’s difficult to do.
It’s important to not: use sarcasm
It’s important to not: use knee jerk reactions, in responses or baiting.
It’s important to not: change the venue, “Another thing you did…”
It’s important to not: use name calling, “Doodlehead, Crazyman,…”
It’s important to not: use Demonizing or Polarization, “You did..,” Us vs Them
It’s important to not: use one-upmanship behaviour, “At least I am…….”
It’s important to not: use a negative tone, another form of sarcasm or disdain
It’s important to not: use a cavalier manner or attitude
It’s important to not: use impunity, “That’s too small to even worry about!!”
It’s important to not: Gesticulate, arm waving, finger-pointing, giving the finger…
It’s important to not: use tagging, “Yea, Jim is that way.” indirect positioning
It’s important to not: use inverse tagging, “I’m the good one.”
It’s important to not: use Short Shrifting to undermine others
It’s important to not: use Buckshot Charges, “You did A, B, C, D, & E.”
It’s important to not: use Blanket Denial, “It’s ALL WRONG, the WHOLE PACKAGE”
It’s important to not: use Stonewalling, (defensiveness)
It’s important to not: use Stiff-Arming
It’s important to not: use “So What” Answers, People’s feelings, ideas & opinions count
It’s important to not: use Brush-Off Answers
It’s important to not: use Plausible Deniability
It’s important to not: use Punt, Fumble, Out oF Bounds Answers
It’s important to not:…………..
There are an endless supply of bad arguments and answers.
I’ve been trying to shift to good responses, earnest responses, and real answers to real questions. I found that it wasn’t enough to just agree with GOOD ANSWERS. It wasn’t enough to just try to work with people. I had to HONOR the sensible way out. I have to lift that good measure up as an ideal and make it and keep it real.
I realized from my list of conflict resolution arguments that it’s real easy to mess up and it’s extremely difficult to stay on track and resolve things honorably.
The things that I HONOR now are civility, kindness, dialogue, others input, truth no matter the source. It’s important to value the merit of ideas regardless of another’s high or low status.
I’m willing to take the short disappointments because now I’m playing the long game. Not as a game but as a way to treat others and myself honorably and respectfully.
P.S. This is a work in progress for me.
Civility costs nothing, and buys everything.
-Mary Wortley Montagu
-Mary Wortley Montagu
The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be; all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice and experience of them.”