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Just Try Harder! (Or Not)

by Vivian Scott
November 2010

From Vivian Scott's Conflicts Of InterestBlog

Vivian Scott

Ever want something for another person more than they want it for themselves?

I recently heard about a woman who joined a gym she couldn’t afford and purged her cupboards of all junk food in support of her best friend who said she needed help losing a considerable amount of weight that was causing her serious health problems. After being the sole participant at numerous workout sessions and seeing her overweight friend’s poor eating habits continue, the woman finally faced the reality that she was the only one truly committed to the goal. The realization caused quite a conflict between the two and the woman ultimately isolated herself from her friend.

There’s probably a pretty good chance you’ve been sucked in a time or two (or three or four) by a similar situation. You listen to someone share her problems, you get involved in her tales of woe, and the next thing you know you’re jumping through hoops to fix things on her behalf. Then, you slowly start to figure out that you’re the head cheerleader for a team that has no intention of winning – and that your friend is actually working againstyou. Gah!

Maybe the problem in these situations is that there’s a difference between a person who would “like something to happen” and the individual who really “wants” to reach a goal.

Like = talk.

Want = action (and by action I mean willing to do EVERYTHING it takes to reach the goal).

Most of us start with talk and move into action later so it’s okay to be in the “like for it to happen” mode for a while because we need to consider all our options, clarify what it is we really want, etc. However, if you believe someone is in the “want” stage when they’re really in the “like” stage, you may end up with a huge problem between the two of you. Rather than walk away in frustration like the woman in the example or end up resenting the other person for not putting in enough effort try adjusting your efforts.

Tell the other person that you think there’s a difference between “like” and “want” and that you believe she might be in the “like” stage. Let her know that when she’s ready (if ever) to move into doing what it takes to make her goal come to fruition, you’ll jump back on board and match her efforts. Then focus your energy on the part of the relationship with her that you enjoy and when she starts talking about the thing she’d “like to see happen”, listen politely, do a lot of self-talk to avoid being sucked back in, and get on with achieving your own goals.

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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Website: www.vivianscottmediation.com

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