Here we go; round and round. That’s the sound of the all-too-familiar family whirlpool in which one person (usually the woman) asks that a chore get done and the other person (usually a man) seems agreeable but never quite gets it done. She starts tip-toeing around the subject, he avoids it, she gets louder, he acts like she’s a nag, and now they’re on spin cycle with no forward progress in sight.
The last gzillion months have been like that in my house over the washing machine. Apropos, don’t you think? It started with me mentioning that the unit works fine if you have a full load but if there are just a few items, it won’t drain and stops mid-cycle. My man, who can fix anything by the way, took a look at it and I could tell immediately this wasn’t going to end well. He didn’t repair it right away, though he did move a bunch of tools into the laundry room and stack them neatly on the counter—where they’ve stayed for, well, a gzillion months.
I used my mediator magic to keep the conversations positive, to ask for realistic deadlines, to seek out information that was standing in the way (e.g. user manuals, advice from experts, etc.) and still I was wringing out the new red t-shirt and my hand-wash-only unmentionables. Finally, I decided to face reality. Clearly, my Superman is not chomping at the bit to resolve this issue and, clearly, this issue isn’t something I’m willing to end our relationship over, so the appliance repairman is coming this afternoon. It’s time we end the cycle (pun intended).
Vivian Scott is a Professional Certified Mediator and the author of Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies. She spent many years in the competitive and often stress-filled world of high tech marketing where she realized resolving conflict within the confines of office politics was paramount to success. Through creative solutions to common conflicts she was able to bring various entities together, both internally and externally, for the betterment of projects and a productive working environment.
Prior to retiring from Microsoft in 1999 she developed the “America at Work” video series, a six-part program featuring small businesses employing technology in attention-grabbing ways. “America at Work” aired on the USA Network and received the Silver Screen Award from the International Film and Video Festival for outstanding creativity. Using discerning negotiation, mediation, and problem-solving skills, she successfully worked with others to co-create “How-to Guides”, “Seminar in a Box”, and even one of the first on-line Guerrilla Marketing books.
Since her retirement, Ms. Scott has gone on to earn a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences with a concentration in American Studies from the University of Washington. She completed an extensive practicum with the Dispute Resolution Center of Snohomish & Island Counties where she has mediated numerous cases, helping parties resolve conflict in workplace, family, and other disputes. Her private mediation practice has handled cases ranging from assisting business partners in ending their relationship to creating a new working environment within a law firm. Ms. Scott is a member of the Washington Mediation Association and spends a majority of her time advocating embracing peace in a volatile world.
Her book, Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies, can be found in bookstores, on www.amazon.com, www.dummies.com, or any number of on-line bookseller sites.