Often, interpersonal conflict is over differences of small and varying degrees.
What positions do you hold on to and refuse to let go of that perpetuate conflict?
How does language provide opportunities for growth and change through conflict?
Years ago, I took an Intro to Linguistics elective at Salt Lake Community College. One of the things that stuck in my mind was the concept of Nativism, that babies are born with the knowledge that languages are patterned, and with the ability to seek out those patterns. This capacity for language acquisition, known as a Language Acquisition Device (LAD), is genetic and not the result of a conscious decision on the part of the speaker. The LAD helps children understand the universal grammar of a language as well as the parameters of that language. This concept changed my interest from the mechanical aspects of language to the social use of language and the ways in which people communicate.
Recently, I tweeted a link to an article about how human brains have the capacity to remember the linguistic pattern of languages heard in a child’s infancy, even if the child no longer speaks/knows that language. Fascinating. The brain retains that information! This shows us how deeply entrenched language is in the human experience.
During my studies as an undergraduate, one of the first communication theories that I found truth in was George Herbert Mead’s theory of Symbolic Interactionism. In it, Mead discusses the connection between Meaning, Language, and Thinking. Meaning is the construction of social reality, Language is the source of meaning, and Thinking is the process of taking the role of the other. Here is a summary provided by afirstlook.com (the website for my old Comm Theory textbook).
Essentially, language creates and sustains our social reality, gives humans the ability to create complex social structures, and has the power to shape the world in which we live. This makes communication one of the most powerful forces on Earth and each person on the planet is born with the ability to use this power.
The point is that an individual’s understanding of the world is controlled by the meaning that the individual has assigned, through language, to the world. This is where conflict comes from, because people have assigned different meanings to the same things.
Today I came across this article, How Your Brain Decides Without You.
In it, the author states, “We form our beliefs based on what comes to us from the world through the window of perception, but then those beliefs act like a lens, focusing on what they want to see.” Put another way, we form our beliefs based on what comes to us from the world through the window of our assigned meanings, and then those beliefs act like a lens, causing us to focus on what we want to see.
Basically, Symbolic Intetactionism or seeing life through theory, as Deetz put it.
This may be why individuals seemingly struggle with the same problems over and over again, the same conflicts over and over again. S/he has assigned a specific meaning to a situation/person/group/object, based on experience. Until s/he has an experience that provides him/her with an opportunity to change his/her assigned meaning to a given situation/person/group/object, it will not change. That experience is vital, as pointed out in the Brain article, because, “we are stubborn in our decisions…. Studying subjects’ brain activity via EEG, [researchers] found that people’s “memory signals” were much the same toward… incorrect information as they were toward… things they correctly remembered. Their interpretation of the event had hardened into truth.
“This hardening can happen without our awareness.”
Capital T Truth cannot be changed by information alone. It is changed through experience. Experience changes Truth because experience creates an opportunity for new meaning to be created and assigned by the individual.
When you experience conflict, I encourage you to engage it open mindedly. Use it as an opportunity to change your world.
The Lord will change you, with time, if you allow Him.
“But more I did in the Gospel, the more I learned, the more I prayed, the more I read, the more involved I got in my Branch, the more my vision and thoughts and outlook and desires changed. I wasn’t seeking answers to those specific things, but the more I exercised this faith I didn’t know if I had or not, and the more obedient I was, the more I just tried, the more blessed I was from Heavenly Father. I literally woke up one day and my mind was changed. I woke up one day and anything that I ever disagreed with, or desires I had that were not in line with the Gospel, disappeared on their own. He gave me understanding. Comfort. Knowledge.”
Dear T-Mobile. I walked into one of your stores today to discuss switching to T-Mobile from one of your competitors. When asked why I wanted to switch (an odd question – why does the clerk care why I’m switching? He should simply be willing to take my money), I told the clerk that it was because of my interest in the Nokia 925. He sneered and said, “Oh, Windows Phone? Why are you interested in that? You know, the GS4 just came out.” (Again, a stupid question. He shouldn’t care why I want a WP8 device, he should just care that I’m there to give your company money!)
I responded kindly regarding my interest in the WP platform, that I currently have an Android device, and that if I didn’t switch to WP8 I’d likely switch to the new Blackberry Z10. He responded, “Oh, we have Blackberry in stock” and escorted me over to it. “Good luck making it work. The UI isn’t very intuitive.” He was kind enough to even give me a small instructional flier. I picked up the device and zipped right through it. He was shocked! (You know, because, how could someone possibly know how to use something that isn’t Android? Oh wait, you mean, some people actually follow websites like Mobile Nations and learn about the latest and greatest in the mobile tech world?) Seriously, he was stupefied. “You see what I mean? It’s not very intuitive.” “I seem to be managing it just fine,” I replied. He continued to argue with me and say that Android this and Android that and blah blah blah blah blah….
I thanked him kindly and left. You could have gained a customer today. Instead, your Android Fanboy clerk blew it.
From Caleb at Gun Nuts Media:
Now, I’m no gun expert like Joe Biden, but it occurs to me that if a known terrorist who’d already displayed a willingness to shoot it out with the cops and use explosives was on the loose in my neighborhood, I’d probably want a little more defensive firepower than a double barreled shotgun. I might even want a rifle like what the police likely used to shoot at said terrorist with. But that’s crazy talk, right? Dianne Feinstein said there’s no reason for me to own a military style weapon, because we have cops and the military to protect from things like terrorists running around shooting up neighborhoods.
The situation in Boston presents an excellent teaching moment. When the emergency broadcast system comes on and tells you there’s a terrorist loose in your neighborhood, do you want to lock the doors and cower in fear hoping for the best, or would you rather lock the doors and go about your life as normal, knowing that you have a rifle and the skill to use it?
Boy, I’d say!
You don’t have to speak Russian to understand that!
Some talking head on some radio station this morning asked a self described “conservative” caller an interesting question: “You know, conservatives want the Federal government involved in some thing but not in others. Which is it? Why are you so back and forth on what you want government to do and not do?”
After fighting the urge to rip out my radio and throw it out the window, I chose a more effective way of dealing with the issue and screamed at the top of my lungs: “That’s American Federalism you f***ing MORON!!!” One of the beauties of the American system is that the powers granted to the states and the federal government are constantly being pushed and pulled, pinched and squeezed, expanded and contracted. The states acting as a check and a balance on the power of the feds and the feds acting as a check and a balance on the power of the states. IT’S A FEATURE NOT A BUG!
Thus, it is appropriate in certain instances for the state to hold power where the feds do not and there are appropriate instances where the feds to hold power over the states.
The Second Amendment to the US Constitution is one of the issues where the states and the feds are fighting for power. Sebastian points this out clearly in his post We Can No Longer Tolerate Two Americas. Go. Read.
I Want to Be a Ukrainian
Margaret Wheatley ©2005
When I come of age,
When I get over being a teen-ager
When I take my life seriously
When I grow up
I want to be a Ukrainian.
When I come of age
I want to stand happily in the cold
for days beyond number,
no longer numb to what I need.
I want to hear my voice
rise loud and clear above
the icy fog, claiming myself.
It was day fifteen of the protest, and a woman standing next to her car was being interviewed. Her car had a rooster sitting on top of it. She said “We’ve woken up and we’re not leaving till this rotten government is out.” It is not recorded if the rooster crowed.
When I get over being a teen-ager
when I no longer complain or accuse
when I stop blaming everybody else
when I take responsibility
I will have become a Ukrainian
The Yushchenko supporters carried bright orange banners which they waved vigorously on slim poles. Soon after the protests began, the government sent in thugs hoping to create violence. They also carried banners, but theirs were hung on heavy clubs that could double as weapons.
When I take my life seriously
when I look directly at what’s going on
when I know that the future doesn’t change itself
that I must act
I will be a Ukrainian.
“Protest that endures,” Wendell Berry said, “is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one’s own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence.
When I grow up and am known as a Ukrainian
I will move easily onto the streets
confident, insistent, happy to preserve the qualities
of my own heart and spirit.
In my maturity, l will be glad to teach you
the cost of acquiescence
the price of silence
the peril of retreat
“Hope,” said Vaclev Havel, “is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.”
I will teach you all that I have learned
the strength of fearlessness
the peace of conviction
the strange source of hope
and I will die well, having been a Ukrainian.
Jay takes the question “Why Do You Need a Gun? You Can Just Call 911…” and answers in a way that must make the antis smile. Why do I think it makes them smile? Because this is what they want.
They’ll deny it, of course. “We don’t want people to die!” they’ll emphatically scream. Unfortunately, they do. Understand, they don’t want you to take care of yourself because your dependence on them is their sole reason for living. It makes them feel important.
Unfortunately, it also makes you dead.
I came across this article on LinkedIn.com and really enjoyed it. In From Argument to Engagement, David Liddle discusses how traditional HR grievance resolution methods do little to actually help resolve conflict in the work place:
Traditional grievance or bullying and harassment procedures do little to resolve disputes. Drawing on a quasi-legal structure they are inherently formal and profoundly adversarial. When I speak with employees, managers and HR professionals, they tell me that they do everything that they can to avoid going into a grievance procedure. When they do however encounter the grievance process, the experience has been described to me as harrowing; upsetting; destructive; stressful; frightening; and ultimately counterproductive. Let’s not forget that this is the procedure of choice for resolving disputes in the majority of… organisations.
The dichotomy is plain to see. I call it ‘The HR Paradox’. HR professionals, on the one hand, are a key proponent and enabler of employee engagement. Yet on the other hand, HR are the custodians of a dispute resolution system which tears workplace relationships asunder. The HR Paradox has the potential to undermine the legitimacy of HR and in doing so, it creates the potential for cynicism and distrust of employee engagement initiatives. Nevertheless, employee engagement, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), is a core function of the HR profession.
He then goes on to discuss mediation, what it is, and how it can help your organization.
Mediation can be defined as a:
- Framework – a process whereby a neutral third party intervenes in a dispute to help the parties to secure a satisfactory and constructive resolution.
- Competence – a set of skills that HR, managers and business leaders use to secure constructive outcomes at times of conflict, change and crisis.
- Mind-set – a way of thinking and an organisational culture which embraces dialogue and collaboration rather than blame and retribution.
The mediator is an impartial third party. They help the disputing parties to have an open and honest dialogue so that they can identify and secure a mutually acceptable outcome. A win/win outcome. Mediation is different because it about collaborating rather than blaming.
Mediation is an opportunity for parties-in-conflict to have a new conversation. Mediation provides parties both the privilege and the burden of creating their future.
The benefits of using mediation to build an engaged workforce:
- It gives parties in a dispute a voice and a chance to be heard.
- It encourages openness and honesty.
- It generates empathetic, adult to adult connections.
- Parties focus on their interests and needs rather than the strength of their relative positions.
- The parties craft their own solutions – avoiding the need for solutions to be imposed.
- It encourages creative and innovative thinking.
- Issues are resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.
- It develops resilience – for individuals and for teams.
- It underpins economic growth and drives competitive advantage.
I would LOVE to find a way to integrate mediation into my workplace, even in my own little corner of the organization. Being a grunt, I don’t really have a way to do this presently.
Tam discusses the pant wetting going on regarding the TSA’s decision to allow small pocket knives onto airplanes. In usual Tam fashion, she ends her post with a zinger. After hearing a flight attendant claim that she’s a first responder and the last line of defense, Tam responds:
“No, honey, you’re a waitress in a bad restaurant at 28,000 feet!”
I thought that I had previously posted this. Apparently, I had not.
Anything is Possible – Author Unknown
If there was ever a time to dare,
to make a difference,
to embark on something worth doing,
IT IS NOW.
Not for any grand cause, necessarily…
but for something that tugs at your heart,
something that’s your inspiration,
something that’s your dream.
You owe it to yourself
to make your days here count.
Know, though, that things worth doing seldom come easy.
There will be good days.
And there will be bad days.
There will be times when you want to turn around,
pack it up,
and call it quits.
Those times tell you
that you are pushing yourself,
that you are not afraid to learn by trying.
Because with an idea,
and the right tools,
you can do great things.
Let your instincts,
and your heart,
believe in the incredible power of the human mind.
Of doing something that makes a difference.
Of working hard.
Of laughing and hoping.
Of lazy afternoons.
Of lasting friends.
Of all the things that will cross your path this year.
The start of something new brings the hope of something great, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.