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From Vivian Scott’s Conflicts Of InterestBlog

“The relationships we have with the world are largely determined by the relationships we have with ourselves” ~Greg Anderson~

Boy, ain’t that the truth? I was watching a group of people the other day who were trying to strategize on how they would approach an upcoming competition. Okay, I admit I was watching The Biggest Loser but there was an interesting dynamic going on that I think is worth talking about. The group was discussing the show’s weigh-in and their desire to keep certain contestants around for as long as possible. Three of the individuals at the table are parents to three of the other players and one woman hinted that she and the other mother would be willing to gain weight in order to “save” their children. The only father in the group began to take offense at the way the strategy was being presented and became very emotional. After some silence and a bit of fidgeting he began to speak and said that he didn’t think just because he was “old” that his journey was any less important than a younger person’s. One of the younger people without a parent in the game took offense to his statement and left the table. Later, in a private interview, she stated that she was angry at his suggestion that she didn’t need to be there. Wait, what?!? When did he say that?

I flipped back to listen again to what was actually said throughout the scene and started became acutely aware at the difference between what each individual had stated and what the other individuals heard. The scene was a comedy of errors in listening and assumption building and it came as no surprise to me when the conversation imploded; leaving everyone at the table emotional and no farther along in their strategy than when they first sat down.

It seemed to me that the group members were trying to approach a group decision while firmly sequestered in individual bubbles. And, isn’t that the way we mere mortals usually approach a tough conversation? Actually, isn’t that the way we approach any conversation? I’ve been trained to look at things differently and even I have a hard time remembering to step outside my bubble and think beyond my own bias, attitudes, and insecurities with others.

If I’m looking for snide remarks about something that matters to me—guess what—I hear snide remarks. I will, though, give myself a little credit and say that I finally figured out that if I have the capacity to see the worst in other people’s words and actions it means that I also have the capacity to look for—and find—good intentions, happy people, and validation from complete strangers. What the day brings is largely up to me!

                        author

Vivian Scott

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… MORE >

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