Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, August 20, 2010

Conflict resolution

Before I write about today's topic, conflict resolution, I want to let everyone who wrote so kindly about my niggling voice know that it has been resolved. There was definitely a reason I wasn't supposed to make that trip to Portland. I need to be somewhere else to be with someone who needs my help. I just didn't know when or how. So thanks for your wonderful comments. I guess what I wrote in my memoir, Following the Whispers, is really the truth. Nice to know...

Most of my life, I've been afraid of anger - either my own or others. My father was volatile. You never knew from one moment to the next whether he'd explode or why. My mother would become stony when angered, face frozen in a perpetual scowl. I simply shut down.

I've worked long and hard on myself, learning to recognize anger signs in others and in myself. Rather than turning anger into hurt or depression as I used to do, I allow myself to feel the feelings, calm down and then express myself.

These skills are being tested in one of my circle of friends. One person is trying to change the way things are done and the way things are being done doesn't need changing - it works. We've patiently explained each time the issue is raised why we do things the way we do, but this person keeps finding new ways to broach the subject again. It feels manipulative and controlling.

In the past, I would have simply complied in order to not have conflict. I can no longer do that, especially if I firmly believe in what I'm doing and why. So I am angry. The way I see it, I am left with two choices. I can continue to allow this person to disrupt the unity of the group, hoping they'll stop. Or, the next time it happens, I can say, "This isn't working for me and obviously this group isn't working for you."

Am I missing a choice here somewhere? How do you handle this kind of conflict?

Blessings,
karen

16 comments:

Rayna M. Iyer said...

I would love to tell you that what you should do in the situation is pull her aside and explain to her how her behaviour is breaking up the group, and could she please behave the way people would like her to .......

In your position, I know I will chicken out of doing any of that- I would just leave the group to escape the negativity.

Mary said...

Some people have a need to control and manipulate. There's someone in my life like that. Things got to a point where I had literally say, "I will not allow you to manipulate me. You are making me miserable and I'm done." Sticking to it was/is difficult but necessary for the peace of my family. She has chosen to spend limited amounts of time with us as a group and that's okay. Will she change? Up to her but we are no longer her psychological hostages.

Cyndi said...

I've struggled with anger, my own and others, and for the same exact reason as you. I avoided conflict for 37 years. No more. If the rest of the group is in agreement and she is the only one who wants to change things, I say tell her this is how we're doing it.....nut up or shut up! :) It's tough I know, but people who's goal is only to control and manipulate simply aren't worth the emotional roller coaster. Bleh....I stay as far away from them as I can as soon as I recognize the manipulation.

Stephen Tremp said...

I've found one element in relationships boils down to what you are willing to put up with. You don't have to agree with people. My wife and I have different solutions for the same problem. But we are different people in many repsect, and "put up with" things that we normally would not do ourselves.

Stephen Tremp

T. Anne said...

Some people cannot deal unless they are the ones in control. Believe me I know, I'm surrounded with them. I'm sending prayers.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

If the troublemaker disrupts the whole group, then sometimes it's best to remove them. Your proposed conversation above may have to take place soon.

Anonymous said...

Next time she brings it up, put it to a vote in the whole group, and vote her down. Maybe that will send the message to "quit making trouble for no reason."
-Simona

Jemi Fraser said...

That's so hard. Some people don't know when to stop and aren't happy unless every last thing is done his/her way. Is there any way to speak to this person privately and let her know her continual return to this topic is upsetting others?

Patricia Stoltey said...

I like Simona's suggestion. Bring the problem out into the open and ask the group to make a decision. Then you can declare the topic closed.

Karen, I finished "Following the Whispers" and want to compliment you on writing so well and for writing from the heart. I'm sure it wasn't easy, but however long and difficult the journey, it was worth. Well done, my friend.

Patricia

arlee bird said...

If compassion, reason, and letting everyone calmly vent doesnt' work I think you don't have much other choice than to go your second route of breaking off the relationship as long as everyone else is going to stand behind the decision.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Mason Canyon said...

Listening to that inner voice does work. As for your present conflict, I'm with Simona and Patricia, put it to a vote. Maybe then this person will realize they can't be in control. Good luck.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Karen Walker said...

You guys are totally awesome! Thanks so much for this wonderful feedback. And Patricia, your words mean more than you can possibly know regarding my memoir.
Karen

Sharon Lippincott said...

I had to face a similar situation in a writing group I lead. One new person is a Retired English Professor, Doctor No Name. The first time he attended, after the first person read, Doctor jumped in without so much as a by your leave and ripped the piece to shreds. People were trembling. That's not how we do things! After half a page I asked him to share further comments privately with the author and that corked him for the rest of the session. After a couple of months of rolling eyes I learned that several long time members planned to quit attending. I called for a general discussion, announced in advance, of why people were attending, what they wanted from the group and their experience, and what would make the group work better for them. The discussion went smoothly, and seemed to clear the air. It's too soon to be sure how this might change his behavior. But the public discussion approach worked well, and several people told me they appreciated it.

If you are the group leader, you've got to be the group leader and protect that group like a mother bear going after a mountain lion!

Maryann Miller said...

I have trouble dealing with anger, too. Lots of it in my family as I was growing up and I tend to run fast in the other direction.

I think the end of your blog piece is what you need to consider in dealing with this person. Just tell him or her as tactfully as possible that the group dynamics are not working.

The Old Silly said...

First step ... "I allow myself to feel the feelings, calm down and then express myself."

yes, absolutely, and then you say ...

"This isn't working for me and obviously this group isn't working for you."

You absolutely got it. What the problem is? (wink) I know it ain't all that easy to do, but you do know the what, why, and how, so ...

Glynis said...

I think you will deal with it as you see fit. Your inner strength will surprise you, I am sure.

Whatever you decide to do, I wish you luck.