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When you’re at the edge of the argument cliff, it isn’t courageous to step off. It’s foolishness. Courage is taking your destiny in your hands and backing up.
Sometimes, as an argument begins to unfold in front of you, you see what is about to happen. You see the cliff in front of you before you take your next step.
I call this moment your “choice point.” It’s the moment you choose to fight. It’s the moment you can still choose your words with care because you haven’t been emotionally hijacked by the conflict yet. It’s the moment you can choose to step off the cliff and escalate the argument or…step backward.
When you’re at the edge of a cliff, sometimes progress is a step backward. Someone said this before me but I’ve never found the source of this wisdom. It doesn’t diminish the value of the point.
We have this notion when we’re fighting that stepping backward is cowardly or shameful or a failure of some kind. But the real failure is stepping off the cliff and plummeting to certain destruction.
Here are some things you can say when you realize you’re at the edge of a cliff. Adapt them so they sound and feel right coming out of your own mouth.
Dr. Tammy Lenski helps people simplify problem solving, negotiate more successfully at work and home, and transform interpersonal conflict into peace of mind. Since founding her NH-based conflict resolution firm Myriaccord LLC in 1997, Tammy has worked with individuals and organizations worldwide as a master mediator, executive coach, speaker, and educator. Author of the award-winning book, Making Mediation Your Day Job, she recently received the Association for Conflict Resolution’s prestigious Mary Parker Follett award for innovative and pioneering work in her field.
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