Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Take down the Deflector Shield when you have Conflict

I had a busy week and I was tired. There was still no excuse for my behavior when I woke up extra-cranky one Saturday morning and promptly told three very nice and lovely ladies to take a flying leap off a dump truck into a stinking landfill. Yeah-NO, I did not really say it like that. In fact, I didn’t actually speak a mean word to any of them. Instead, I Facebooked and emailed a couple of my special-choice words to all of them. Two of the ladies responded. One did not.
We all have many self-rules which we follow in handling conflict with our fellow man/woman. Sometimes we follow our rules and get good results. Sometimes we don’t follow them and we get good results. Sometimes we just don’t get the results that we can call “good” no matter what we do. In all three situations, with my lady friends, I was surprised.

Here’s my own self rules.

  • Take down the Deflector Shield: If I feel defensive or if I feel like I really want to “rub their nose in it” or “teach them a lesson,” I'd prefer to stay away from the “enemy” until I can visualize the person as my best friend and that we have no sides to the story; just friends.
  • Talk on the phone or in-person whenever possible. It is not easier to put off the call. You can get instant two-way communication and instant relief to a situation which you may have built up in your mind. And, sometimes, parties might have to squabble to get back to being BFF’s. You’ll both come out okay if you both hear that the most important reason you are communicating is to strengthen the friendship.
  • Give yourself some time when a negative incident occurs between yourself and the other person. The theory is to sleep on it and your wisdom will take over.
    Be thankful that you have a person in your life who you have conflict with. Like all relationships, they are probably the best person in your life, right now, to learn how to communicate through this particular conflict.

Here’s where I went astray.
A gal-pal of mine spent years in chemo and radiation therapies and has had a ton of surgeries for cancer. She’s been in remission more than once. She is in debt with medical bill, a very spiritual person, and I love the heck out of her. When she asked me to do her highlights and cuts for free, I felt honored to be able to help out. It’s been a couple of years “comping” her, and I’ve felt good about doing that for her. I got to use my time and talents to help someone. It’s a gift – to me.
On the day before my cranky-Saturday, I got a Facebook message and an email from her asking me if I could do her hair again. She needed it that same day because it was important for her to feel good and she had just found out that she had stage four cancer. Both messages were not read by me until the next morning because I had been doing hair for 18 hours for a fashion show. I was exhausted when I read her hair pleas and her admission to non-remission.
After I read the message, I felt awful. I would have loved to help her out but it was physically impossible. I found out too late, and my weekend was already planned. And then I got very angry. I’m a good hairdresser with a good book and I get a few of these types of emails, texts and Facebook messages a week. Granted, not everyone has cancer, but it seemed to me that a lot of my clients had been wanted to get in for services, last minute, and I had plenty of spaces in the past week’s schedule-IF they had called ahead. I let those warrented or Diva-pissy thoughts overwhelm me and then I sent my own message back. I told her that she should have given me a little more heads up and it just made me feel like shit, and I was angry that she played the Cancer-Card. After a few hours I felt like a monster.
Do you know what she emailed back to me? A thank-you! Ugh. That’s why I loved doing her hair. To be around this courageous woman is inspiring and, again, it’s a gift to me. She thanked me for treating her like a friend and “chewing” her out, because she sometimes gets in her own little world.
I won’t bore with the other two women’s stories. They were not so touching to me as this story. But I will tell you, one was a friend/client who, I felt, let me down, and she did not return my email. The other was my room-mate who let this awful woman sleep at our house, again, after the thankless woman basically left in a huff the first time; saying that she would stay with people who appreciated her the next time. My room-mate didn’t understand that I thought the houseguest used her as a doormat and also made me uncomfortable in my own home. Our Facebook messages to each other left me feeling that she didn’t understand what I was saying.
And what was I saying? Nothing. I was hiding behind my emails and messages. I was not allowing the person who, in my mind, I had conflict with, to actually hear my voice which also did not allow them to affect me. It didn’t matter if these ladies initiated the “conflict” via such communication avenues, I should have called them or talked to them in-person. I will do so in the future.

SO: I had a few calls to make. But I didn’t talk to my room-mate. But I am going to talk to that "houseguest" to make sure she doesn’t feel comfortable to stay at my apartment again.

E-Prime Extra Credit: When communicating, try not to use the verbs “to-be,” such as is or was. Some people use E-Prime as a mental discipline to filter speech and translate the speech of others. For example, the sentence "the movie was good" could translate into E-Prime as "I liked the movie" or as "the movie made me laugh". The E-Prime versions communicate the speaker's experience rather than judgment, making it harder for the writer or reader or communicator to confuse opinion with fact. The dog is a menace. Becomes... Joe says that the dog behaves like a menace.
http://www.nobeliefs.com/eprime.htm This link has the book listed. I recommend.
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