Feb 19, 2009

Setting the Stage: The Important Step to Take Before Method III

Before beginning Method III for the first time it is essential that you lay the ground work with your child or other person. In P.E.T. this is called "Setting the Stage" and it is something you need to do before starting with Step 1.

Just because you want to use a win-win way to solve problems, don't expect the other person to immediately be enthusiastic about trying something new. If your child, partner or other person is used to Method I or Method II as the way you solve problems together, he or she may be very suspicious when you try to introduce Method III. To her it may seem hard to believe and it may take time and energy to help her accept and embrace Method III.

"Setting the Stage" provides a way for you to introduce both the idea and steps of Method III while dealing with any feelings of mistrust or uncertainty on the part of the child/other. It's important that you not use Method I (power) to get them to agree to try Method III.

Once you have used Method III with your child/other and she is familiar with it and has trust that her needs will get met (you will both be winners), then "Setting the Stage" goes very quickly. The process becomes much less formal and usually involves only having to identify there is a problem and agreeing on a time to address it using Method III.

  • Choose best possible time/situation.
  • Tell child you would like to talk with him/her about a problem.
  • Convince child you both need to be happy with the results.
  • Explain Method III.
  • Agree to use Method III and schedule a time to begin.
Choose the best possible time/situation.
The very first time you introduce the idea of using Method III to your child or family, do it when there is no conflict and you are both in the No Problem Area. Talk about how and why you would like to solve problems differently in the future.

For best reception and acceptance of Method III, try it first on a "No Problem Area" decision such as what to do during the next family vacation or choose a very small problem which is free of strong feelings and past history.

Tell the child/other you would like to talk with him or her about a problem.
When you do finally introduce an actual problem, indicate that you would like to work it out differently than you have in the past. Let him know you want to work together to solve it and that his thoughts, feelings and needs are important to you.

Convince the child/other you both need to be happy with the results.
This is a place for Gear Shifting. "Convince" doesn't mean you try to talk him into it, in fact it means you will probably need to do a lot of Active listening.

Begin with an I-Message about why you want to solve this problem in a different way and then be ready to Gear Shift and use Active Listening to deal with any suspicion, resistance or confusion on the part of your child or other. 

Once you have Active Listened, use another I-Message to restate your genuine desire to work the problem out in a win-win way so you end up agreeing on a solution that you both are happy with.

Explain Method III.
Don't expect your child or the other person to automatically understand what you mean by Method III Problem Solving. Because of their life experiences, the words "Problem Solving" means Method I, II or Compromise to them. You will need to explain exactly what the Six Steps are and how they work.

Start by briefly reviewing the ways of solving problems they are most familiar with, Method I, and Method II (win-lose).

Example - you might explain this to your child by telling her: "One way for us to solve a problem is for me to tell you what to do - and you have to do it. You'll end up unhappy and feeling like the loser. Another way is for you to decide to do whatever you want - and I end up feeling like the loser."

"Our relationship is important to me. I want you and me to feel good about how we solve our problems together."

"I'd like to do things differently. There is a better way to work things out so there are no losers and everyone wins."

Be ready at any point to Active Listen to more suspicion or confusion.

When your child/other is ready to hear it, explain what each of the Six Steps are. Use language and examples that fit the age of your child.

Agree to use Method III and schedule a time to begin.
Once your child or other understands how Method III works, and she is willing to try it, agree on when you will begin Step 1. You may decide to start immediately or at a later time.

Note that how precisely you follow the process of "setting the Stage" and how much detail you present will depend on the age of the child and on the relationship.

Please leave any comments or questions you have!

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