(Mis)Adventures on the National Mall

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Even after more than 5 years, I am still amazed by where I live.  In the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself on the National Mall for a few different reasons.

A Cause for Concern

The Washington Monument, seen from Constitution Avenue; photo by Tasha M. Troy

The Washington Monument, seen from Constitution Avenue; photo by Tasha M. Troy

Purely by chance, I found myself in the midst of the recent Million Man March.  There was a certain electricity in the air, an anger that was almost tangible.  I was alarmed by the slogan of the event, which I saw on t-shirt after t-shirt – “Justice or Else.”

This was not the first time I’ve felt that atmosphere of anger, standing in our nation’s capitol.  It makes me wonder if we are destined to dissolve into civil unrest, not listening to each other, not resolving any issues, simply imposing our own views upon the rest of society, each faction doing what is right in their own eyes without regard for any others.

A Glimmer of Hope

Washington Prayer Rally, October 12, 2015; photo by Tasha M. Troy

Washington Prayer Rally, October 12, 2015; photo by Tasha M. Troy

Two days after the Million Man March, I was witness to and participant in another event, again on the National Mall.  This was the second annual Washington Prayer Rally.  I heard songs and prayers in three different languages from several different ethnicities, and my hope was renewed.

Perhaps the angry voices are simply louder; voices for unity are calm and quiet, often soothing.  However, it is good to know I am not a lone voice.   Ok, really, I know I can’t be the only one calling for dialogue, for connective listening, for reconciliation, but sometimes it’s really refreshing to be in the physical presence of others who are calling for the same things.

Building Trust, Opening Dialogue

Washington Prayer Rally, October 12, 2015; photo by Tasha M. Troy

Washington Prayer Rally, October 12, 2015; photo by Tasha M. Troy

How can we make this world a better place?  What is one thing we can do as individuals to move towards justice and reconciliation?  It all starts with putting another person’s wellbeing before your own.  When we get out of our own perspective and consider the perspectives of others, we have made a start.  This never happens by accident.

With the launch of his newest book, John Maxwell is inviting people to join him in an effort to make intentional choices to do just this – to think of others first.  Are you ready to start making a difference in your home, workplace, and community?  Then I invite you to engage in a (free) 7-day experiment in intentional living.

In 10 minutes a day, you will start transforming your corner of the world.  As you begin to put others first and invest in their lives, they will begin to trust your intentions, and dialogue will then become possible.

Will you join John and me as we attempt to transform our communities, our nation, and our world?

 

Join the intentional living movement!  Click here to get started!

 

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Protect Your Buttons!

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A few years ago, I brought a roommate into my home.  This was the first time I’d had a roommate since I’d graduate from college, so many years ago, so it was a bit of an adjustment for me.

To make things more challenging, my roommate and I had dramatically different personalities.  She was an extrovert who enjoyed arguments for fun, and I am an introvert who avoids conflict whenever possible.

I will never forget the first break from teaching I had after she had moved in.  I was all set to have a relaxing week in preparation for the intense couple of months I knew would follow.  I walked into the kitchen one day early in the week, and my roommate decided she needed to convince me I needed to become an extrovert, a point she pursued tirelessly for 10 or 15 minutes.  She ended up telling me I needed to defend myself, but I saw no need to argue over my introversion!

It turns out that she wanted me to relax and have fun by arguing!

IMG_0551This was not the last time she picked an argument with me.  That year was an election year, and we held opposing political views.  That in itself didn’t bother me; I quite enjoy the open exchange of ideas.  The fact that she always had to be right did bother me.

One night she had me so frustrated and angry that I went to my room and cried.  Yes, I sobbed!  I was convinced I’d have to ask her to move.  She heard me and came and apologized.  Thankfully, she never provoked me to that degree again, but we never really were able to develop a friendship.

How often do we let people or circumstances “push our buttons”?

Any time we are drawn into a conflict it is important to remember one thing:  I can only control and change myself; there is nothing I can do to control the other person or their reactions.

If that is the case, what can we do to rise above the drama of everyday, or extraordinary, conflict?

Imperfect Progress

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Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Changing how you react to the people and circumstances that provoke you is not a quick and easy thing.  In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell talks about “The Law of Process” – leadership doesn’t develop in a day, but daily.  I think here we could substitute the term “personal growth” for leadership.  It’s a process.

Just like losing weight or building muscles or learning how to perform any skill takes time, effort, attention, and practice, so building our emotional muscles takes time.

Lysa TerKeurst talks about such a process in her book Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions.  She calls it “imperfect progress.”  If each day we are making slightly better choices than we did yesterday, we are making progress.  We won’t react perfectly every time; we are still human and we will blow it.  However, if that happens less and less frequently, we have cause to celebrate.

The Ongoing Struggle

When my roommate finally moved out, she did so in such a way as to provoke conflict.  However, by that time I had begun to value my inner peace more than exerting my rights and managed to avoid a final open conflict.  It truly was a struggle – the woman had become an expert at pushing my buttons – but I chose to not respond to her provocations in the way she expected.  Imperfect progress.

In what area of life do you need to allow “imperfect progress”?

 

References

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions.  by Lysa TerKeurst

Where do we go from here?

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I have been watching current events closely.  It appears that the divisions in the US between different groups are only continuing to widen, and a resolution to our issues seems more and more unlikely.

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US Supreme Court, April 28, 2015; photo by Tasha M. Troy

In just the past few weeks, we’ve seen clear evidence that the racial, social, and ideological divide (which I am trying to bridge) continues to widen.

  • The June 17 shooting at a historic Black church, killing 9 and setting off a series of church burnings.
  • The June 26 Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, causing great rejoicing at the affirmation of civil rights for some and deep mourning at the loss of civil liberties for others.

 

At this point, it seems the only voices I clearly hear are from either extreme end of the spectrum, spewing fear and hate; only those who are deeply entrenched in their positions are heard.  Under these conditions, the situation will only continue to get worse.  Some have voiced concerns of a coming race war; others fear the further loss of first amendment rights.  The future, indeed, looks bleak.

However, I believe that as long as there is life, there is hope.

Yes, I still hope that things can and will get better.  I believe communication is the root of all relationship, and if we are going to truly bridge the divides we see here in the US (and in other countries as well), we have to stop broadcasting our entrenched opinions and start listening.

In the coming weeks, I will write more about what I believe we as a nation need to start doing in order to begin healing the divisions and schisms among us.  I truly believe it begins with what Mark Goulston and John Ullmen call “connected influence.”  If you’ve been reading Bridging the Divide for very long, you probably know I think very highly of their book Real Influence.

I believe their four-stage model is the key to turning things around in our country.

  1. Go for great outcomes: the US was once considered the greatest nation in the world, but not today.  I believe the US can be great once more – if certain criteria are met.  (Clarification – I am not talking about “American Exceptionalism” here; I will write more of my thoughts about this next week.)
  2. Listen past your blind spot: we do too much talking and not enough listening.
  3. Engage them in their there: we have to meet others where they are, not expecting them to come to us first.
  4. When you’ve done enough … do more: there is no short-term fix; we have to take the long view and invest for the future.

In the weeks ahead, I will lay out my thoughts on how we, as a nation, can walk in connected influence in such a way as to bring healing to our society.  Yes, I know I am a bit idealistic, but I am still hopeful that we can find common ground and move forward as a nation.

 

Links and Resources:

Read my review of Real Influence

Website for Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving In

Series of blog posts by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen based on the concepts in Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving In

YouTube Playlist of interview with Dr. Mark Goulston

Communication Fundamentals course on Lynda.com, taught by John Ullmen

 

Conflict and Non-Zero-Sum Dynamics

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Every relationship will experience conflict in some measure.  However, the most complex conflicts involve groups and communities.  According to Robert Wright, interdisciplinary writer and journalist, “all the salvation of the world requires is the intelligent pursuit of self-interests in a disciplined and careful way.”

How can we accomplish this?  Robert Wright has some ideas.

 

 

Conflict Handling – The Compromising Style

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By Tasha M. Troy

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“Come visit me in Korea”

“It’s too far; meet us half-way.”

“What do you mean, ‘half-way’?”

“Let’s meet in Hawaii!”

 

When I first moved to South Korea, of course I wanted my family to come visit me.  Not only did I want to see them, but I also wanted to share what I loved about my new home with them.  However, for the first few years my parents resisted, citing the 14-hour flight as the main reason not to come.  They always offered a compromise, though; they loved visiting Hawaii!

While I always enjoyed our trips to Hawaii – who wouldn’t?! – it only satisfied one part of my reason for inviting them to visit me.

It seems to me that “compromise” is what most people think of when they think of win-win solutions.  Give a little; take a little; meet in the middle.  However, is this always the best approach?

Drawbacks:

While it is good that both sides move towards each other, it often leaves one or both parties feeling dissatisfied with the results. While this might not be a problem with everyday issues, in the larger conflicts of our time, a compromise might only postpone the fight to another day.

Benefits:

The compromising style takes much less time to reach a solution than the collaborative style, so it is a great approach when time is short and a quick fix is needed.  It can be more effective than the competing, avoiding, and accommodating styles because both sides get what they want at least partially.  Also, in relationships where the give-and-take can even out over time, any dissatisfaction with the outcome may be short-lived.

 

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Photo by Tasha M. Troy

I suggest using the compromising approach sparingly.  When time allows, I believe the collaborative style produces longer-lasting results; however, when time is short, or if a stop-gap measure is needed quickly, a compromise might be a good starting point.  And you never know – you might really enjoy the compromise!

Take It Deeper

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions on Fridays.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

Check out the rest of this series!

The Competitive Style

The Avoiding Style

The Accommodating Style

The Collaborative Style

 

Links and Resources:

“Conflict Resolution:  Resolving Conflict Rationally and Effectively” 

An article that explains the five conflict handling styles as well as the “Interest Based Relational Approach” to dealing with conflict, an approach based on the concepts of the book Getting to Yes by authors Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton

 

Are you ready to become a REAL Success?  Check out the schedule for a Mastermind Group starting soon.

Conflict Handling – The Collaborative Style

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By Tasha M. Troy

Over the last five to ten years, one of my greatest pleasures has been working with my co-teachers.  In fact, because we teach the same students  in different contexts, the last few years I’ve had to work particularly close with my fellow instructors in planning and implementing lessons.

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

As we are discussing an upcoming lesson, I might suggest an activity that my colleague doesn’t particularly like for some reason.  Then she may suggest something I’ve tried before that didn’t go over so well.  Then we come up with a third version, a hybrid that addresses the issues that didn’t work in the past and emphasizes the skills we want the students to focus on.  By taking multiple perspectives into consideration, a richer, more inclusive plan can be crafted.

As Colonel “Hannibal” Smith of the A-Team used to say, I love it when a plan comes together!

Sometimes referred to as “win-win,” the collaborating style of conflict resolution usually produces the most lasting results.  When both sides have a voice in crafting the solution, both can walk away happy with the conclusion of the matter, not merely mollified.

This style is as much, it not more so, about the process of reaching an agreement than it is about the agreement itself.  It requires a high level of self disclosure from all parties if a truly collaborative result is to be achieved.  Of course, this also requires a high level of trust, which doesn’t come easy in most cases.

Drawbacks

While it may produce the most favorable outcomes, this style also takes the most time and effort to reach a resolution. The tricky part is that it depends on both sides being committed to seeing the process through.

Additionally, if trust has been eroded prior to engaging in this process, that must be addressed before any other issues can be resolved.  Incremental progress on smaller issues while trust is reestablished is essential.

Benefits

The key benefit of spending all the time necessary to work out a truly collaborative solution is that all involved will ideally buy into the solution.  The best solutions take everyone’s concerns into consideration and create a unique answer to the problem or conflict.

Take It Deeper

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions on Fridays.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

 

Links and Resources:

“Conflict Resolution:  Resolving Conflict Rationally and Effectively”

An article that explains the five conflict handling styles as well as the “Interest Based Relational Approach” to dealing with conflict, an approach based on the concepts of the book Getting to Yes by authors Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton

Trust: The Linchpin of Influence 

Are you ready to become a REAL Success?  Check out the schedule for a Mastermind Group starting soon.

 

Check out the rest of this series!

The Competitive Style

The Avoiding Style

The Accommodating Style

The Compromising Style

Handling Conflict – The Accommodating Style

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By Tasha M. Troy

At the St. Louis Zoo. Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Families often use accommodation to keep the peace. Photo by Tasha M. Troy

How often do you get into an argument over where to eat with your friends or family?  This rarely happens to me.  I like so many different kinds of food that I am usually happy acquiescing to whatever my friend’s taste might be (with the notable exceptions of pepperoni pizza or sushi, but even then I can usually find something I like).

The accommodating style of approaching conflict is when, with little or no discussion, you agree to the other person’s wishes.  Like all five styles, there are times to avoid this style and times to use it.

Drawbacks:

People who overuse this style are vulnerable to exploitation.  Once a reputation for accommodating is established, people may begin expecting to get their way when interacting with you.  While this may not be a problem with some people, it seems that “users” have a type of guidance system that draws them to “givers.”

It is also the trap of the “people pleaser.”  While being an agreeable person is important, it is equally important to stand up for your opinions and perspective on an issue.  The trick is to know when to speak up and hold your ground and when to give way to the needs and wishes of  others.

Useful points:

While there are real problems associated with the overuse of this style, it is also a great way to build social credit, especially when the issue is not something you have strong feelings about.  It shows interest in the needs and wants of the other person, which is a key element of forming a connection with another.

I will sometimes use this style in the classroom.  I often use role play scenarios to give my students the opportunity to put different communication skills into practice.  Sometimes they take an approach that I recognize as not the most effective for reaching their goals.  However, I rarely interfere so that they can learn from the experience, especially in a low-stakes environment.  I accommodate their choices so that they can grow.

 

John Maxwell points out that connecting is all about others.  This means that when it is important to build a relationship, the accommodating style may be the recommended style.  Judge the importance and weight of a joint decision, and use this style judiciously.

Take It Deeper

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions on Fridays.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

 

Links and Resources:

“Conflict Resolution:  Resolving Conflict Rationally and Effectively” 

An article that explains the five conflict handling styles as well as the “Interest Based Relational Approach” to dealing with conflict, an approach based on the concepts of the book Getting to Yes by authors Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton

 

Check out the rest of this series!

The Competitive Style

The Avoiding Style

The Collaborative Style

The Compromising Style