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Invisibility: My New Super-Power

by Vivian Scott
December 2015

Conflicts of Interest Blog by Vivian Scott

Vivian Scott
It has taken me a very long time to figure out the best way to deal with dramatic, toxic, and otherwise undesirable folks in my life. Here’s my evolution:

For what seems like eons I was caught in the web of other people’s issues. I would have opinions, try to help, get frustrated when individuals would ask for advice and then not take it, and often I would compassionately hold the hand of the person falling in the same holes over and over and over again. Their problems consumed me! I would lay awake thinking about solutions, hoping things would get better, and then eventually resent the person when progress wasn’t made.

Then I thought I got smart. I decided that someone else’s journey was not my journey so I stopped sharing my pearls of wisdom and brilliant ideas that were sure to fix everything. This approach was very clunky, though, because I didn’t have a plan for what to do instead. I still listened to and participated in the drama. I knew all the details and as much as I liked to think I wasn’t carrying any of their garbage with me, I was. I could still smell it.

The next step involved me learning to say, “Oh.” I became stingier with my input. I would listen and respond with an acknowledging nod (because it would be rude not to let someone know I heard them, right?). Then I would break out my “oh” as a placeholder for all the other things I really wanted to say. This method worked a little bit, but it still wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

Then I became an expert in changing the subject. Want to tell me about all the drama that seems to have been on auto-repeat for the last decade of your life? At the first sign of a rerun story, I would quickly say that I wish everyone well and then ask the drama reporter if they’ve seen the latest episode of Downton Abbey or something as banal as that. Unfortunately, my strategy didn’t always work because somehow the conversation would come back to the drama, no matter how much I tried to take the wheel.

The answer finally came to me in an unlikely way. After harboring resentment toward me for my observations about a particular person’s behaviors, I got smacked with the Facebook unfriend. I no longer knew what was going on, didn’t have the background when others wanted to gossip about so and so, and could truthfully say (and feel) that I was removed from any emotional investment in the situation. Bingo! I started hiding people left and right, unfriended some, and became invisible. It really is true that what you don’t know can’t hurt you.

Now I focus on healthy relationships, take care of myself, worry about my own stuff, and carry my invisibility cape with me at all times. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I wish I had known that I had the power all along. Apparently, the invisibility cape was hiding in the back of my closet but, wow, am I glad I found it!

Biography


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.    



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