Jan 28, 2009

Conflict: An Opportunity for Your Relationship to Grow!

Conflict is a disagreement, a clash, a quarrel, a fight between two or more people--family members, friends, coworkers and the like. It's the moment of truth in a relationship; a test of its health; a crisis that can weaken or strengthen it.

Conflicts can push people away from each other or pull them closer together. Whether it occurs at home, at school, at work, or elsewhere, most people hate conflict and avoid it at all costs. They pretend nothing is wrong. 

They do this because in their experience most conflicts end with someone winning and someone losing or both losing. People end up distant from each other. Sometimes they end up hating each other, or worse, physically hurting each other.

Few people accept that conflict is a natural part of life and not necessarily bad. Actually, it would be a rare relationship in which one person's needs did not conflict with the other's over a period of time. When any two people (or groups) coexist, conflict is bound to occur just because people are different, think differently and have needs and wants that sometimes don't match.

Conflicts can be about friends, spouses, coworkers, chores, money, etc. 

Conflict in a family, with friends, with spouses, coworkers, etc., openly expressed and accepted as natural and inevitable, can be far healthier than most people think. It can be useful in identifying problems which need to be solved. And it can bring about constructive changes in relationships.

Probably the most important factor in any relationship is how conflicts get resolved, not how many conflicts occur. How they get resolved determines to a great extent whether a relationship will be healthy or unhealthy, friendly or unfriendly, intimate or cold, deep or shallow.

Last week, we examined compromise as one way of resolving a conflict, and the damages it can do to a relationship when one person wins and the other person loses. Next week, we will examine how to resolve conflicts so that our relationships can grow stronger. 

Jan 19, 2009

The Family Connection: Get Connected!

The Family Connection is a free monthly e-newsletter sent out by Gordon Training International. Each month we provide stories and insights concerning the skills that are learned in our programs including P.E.T. (Parent Effectiveness Training), T.E.T. (Teacher Effectiveness Training) and Be Your Best. 

This newsletter is for everyone and anyone! (Especially those interested in learning about communication, conflict resolution, and improving relationships with others.)

Email us to sign up at family@gordontraining.com, or tell your friends! Feel free to send suggestions, feedback, or questions and comments!

Jan 16, 2009

P.E.T. News: Now on Facebook and MySpace!

Do you have a Facebook or MySpace page? P.E.T. has both!

First, we have started a new group on Facebook called "Parent Effectiveness Training" and we'd love you to join and help spread the word about this great program!

If you have Facebook, click here to become a member of the "Parent Effectiveness Training" group on Facebook. Also, go ahead and invite any friends you have that might be interested in or would benefit from P.E.T.

If you don't have Facebook, look into it! :) It's a great way to reconnect with friends and family, share pictures and express your views on life.

We have also created a page on MySpace. Click here to view our profile and add us as your friend!

We hope to see your smiling faces in our members section soon!

What's your favorite I-Message to give?

As a refresher - an I-Message is a statement that describes you; an expression of your feelings and experience. They don't have any kind of judgment or interpretation of others and, therefore, they are more honest and encourage others to be more open with you.

My favorite would have to be the Positive or Appreciative I-Message. I use this type of I-Message when I don't have any problems with the other person in my relationship. I simply use it to let them know that I appreciate something that they did, said or even just for the person they are. Positive I-Messages are very easy to give and really explain the "Why?" to your gratitude.

Here's a short message that is perfect for a child: "I really appreciate how you cleaned up your toys in the living room when I asked you to; it's much easier for me to find things in there when I need them now."

So simple, right? Do you see how in that short message you are telling the child what a specific behavior from them meant to you?

As a parent, you can feel good about yourself after sharing positive feelings like this and, most importantly, your child can feel appreciated, affirmed and loved.

To create an I-Message, just add the results of the answers to these questions:

What was my child's behavior that I appreciate?
What effect did that behavior have on me?
How did that behavior make me feel?

Make sure to be as clear as possible - don't add any labels like "You're such a good girl!" The point of a Positive I-Message is to focus on real feelings and experiences and steer clear of judgment.

Try using a Positive I-Message today with your child and report the results with the rest of us in the comments section to this post!

Jan 7, 2009

The Best Relationships Lack Compromise

Does this sound familiar?

"I'm not eating those."
"Oh, yes you are!"

How about this?

"I need to talk to you about something."
"Can't you just leave me alone for one second!?"

These types of conflicts occur often. When we have what seem like irreconcilable needs, in order to move forward, it seems that often one party ends up fulfilling their needs at the expense of the other’s. 

"Compromise" is a word often tossed around in these situations. We have all heard the conventional wisdom that every good relationship is based on compromise. All of us have been told at one time or another that we need to compromise. 

When we hear “compromise” though, it usually signals to us that we are going to have to give up something that we want for the greater good of the relationship. The attitude/mindset of both parties is still usually one of Win-Lose; each has concerns about losing and being sure they get most of what they want—their solutions.

Compromise means that one or both parties will forfeit one or more of their needs so that everyone can get along.

A compromise for our quarrels above might look like this:

 Example 1: 

"I don't want to eat my broccoli; it makes me gag!" 
"You need your vegetables. Now just take 5 bites!"

 Example 2:

"Fine, I guess I’ll wait on you; just let me know when you feel like talking."

In the first example, the child does not get his needs met. He may submit and eat his broccoli, which could leave him feeling powerless, frustrated, perhaps resentful, or he may try a fight or flight response. In any of these situations, harm is done to the relationship. The parent has sent the message to her child that her own needs take precedence over his.

In the second example, one person has completely submitted and sacrificed their needs for another. This person has put his or her own needs on the back burner, which will likely be frustrating and again may lead to feelings of anger and resentment. 

P.E.T. offers us an alternative to compromising, called Method III. Instead of putting ourselves through the frustration of not having our needs met through compromise, or feeling like we have to battle our loved ones in a “my needs vs. your needs” battle, we can clearly state our needs and then discuss and reach a solution that meets everyone's needs. In essence, everyone gets what they want.

We will be discussing the six steps of Method III conflict resolution in more detail in an upcoming post. Until then, please feel free to leave comments about your experiences with compromise, how it made you feel, the effect it has had on your relationships, or anything else!