Conflict Resolution Week 2016: considering marriage, relationships and the opportunities we get in conflict
MediateBC’s Conflict Resolution Week 2016, November 19-26, is a good time for us to consider how we view conflict, how we handle conflict, and in some ways how we view ourselves.
Conflict affects people in different ways. I’ve seen some people who run from conflict, people that try to avoid it more subtly… I’ve seen other people who claim they embrace it.
The people I admire the most are the ones who look at it as an opportunity: an opportunity to learn, to grow, to take steps forward and especially to understand. In conflict there’s the opportunity to understand something, and someone, who’s different. They have a different perspective, they have different values, different needs, different ideas. And so it’s an opportunity to find out a little bit more about someone else and how they experience the world.
Marriage in many ways is one big long conflict!
I don’t mean that it’s always hard. What I mean is that part of the value in a marriage is learning about somebody else and how they view the world and then contrasting that to your view of the world. What we learn from each other is that there are other ways of viewing things, other ways of looking at life. Our perspective is not the only one.
I’ve learned in my marriage that I’m not always right, that my ideas aren’t always the best ones, and so I’ve made it a habit to try to listen first, and understand before I assert my ideas or views.
And I’ve taken this into the rest of my life when I’m in conflict with somebody else, trying to understand their perspective, in a sense climbing into their world to try to figure out why they say what they say, why they do what they do, why they would disagree with me in our conflict. As we develop that habit, we become stronger in our relationships because there’s a growing mutual respect and an understanding that the world doesn’t revolve around me and other people have just as much value as I do. I hope, through Conflict Resolution Week and onward, that you will consider the ways in which you have assumed that your perspective is the only one, and become more and more open to understanding the perspective of others, especially when in conflict.
Seeing the opportunity on the brighter side of our conflicts dovetails with the Seize The Opportunity theme of this year’s Conflict Resolution Week.
As part of the week organized by MediateBC, I will be co-presenting with Maria Silva about Affordable Options for Mediation on Tuesday, November 22. The free lunch hour talk takes place at the People’s Law School downtown.
Also of interest are these three common questions with my 2-minute-or-so answers.
- I’ve heard of Mediation for Big Labour Disputes. Is that what you do?
- What if the other party doesn’t want to mediate?
- What do you love about being a Mediator?
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