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WHAT CAN ONE PERSON ALONE DO TO IMPROVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH CONFLICT?

If a person gets caught in a conflict in which the other disputant refuses to discuss issues, minimal interaction may be adequate in a casual friendship. However, in a close relationship, the lack of honest sharing because of underlying discord can make life difficult. So what can one do in such a dilemma?

 

Harriet Lerner, who has a PhD. in psychology, wrote Why Won’t You Apologize? Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts and other books about relationships. She suggests that apologizing may help restore the relationship. It may be embarrassing to make an apology, for example, if a person forgot to return something borrowed. A reminder from the owner months later would likely at least bring return of the borrowed item; however, it is better to take responsibility for behavior, admit to being inconsiderate, and speak or write an apology for any inconvenience.

 

Usually one sincere apology is enough for a misstep, and overapologizing, saying “I’m sorry” repeatedly, can be irritating and disruptive to relationships. A person might accidently break or stain something, and feel that all is well if the “I”m sorry” is met with “No problem.” In this case it would be better to also offer to pay to clean, repair, or replace the item.

 

It may be tempting to say, “I’m sorry, but it’s hard for me to resist correcting inaccurate statements,” or “I’m sorry you feel that way.” It would be better to be accountable for the action or words and say, “I was out of line with that …., and it will not happen again.” It is necessary to follow through on that to maintain the relationship .

 

It is important to remember that you can control only your reactions and feelings, not those of anyone else. Being late for an event important to a someone close to you and saying “I’m sorry; please forgive me” puts additional burden on the person who was hurt. It would be better to acknowledge that the anger is reasonable and realize that patience may be needed to repair the relationship.

A major betrayal, as in a marriage, would require much more than a simple “I’m sorry.” It would be necessary for the one who neglected the promises to listen with an open heart as the injured person expresses the pain and effects of the deception, and to be willing to share that pain and accept consequences in order to heal the relationship.

 

When someone offers an apology, the best way to accept it is to say, “Thank you for the apology.” If feeling hurt, it would be better to just accept the apology then and possibly talk about the hurt later.

Another way to deal with a resistant disputant is to use Conflict Coaching, a service provided by Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC). The person explains the conflict to the Conflict Coach, who listens and helps the person find ways to work with the adversary and deal with uneasy feelings.

 

Contact MSAC: call 717-334-7312, email mediationac@yahoo.com, and website http://mediateadams.org. to learn more about mediation or training, or to schedule a mediation for help resolving conflicts with family members, neighbors, contractors, landlords, etc. for an economical fee based on income. Mary Kay Turner is a retired teacher, who is also a trainer, mediator, and board member for MSAC.

Threshold

Today we generally think of a threshold as an opening or a doorway. Earlier use of the word referred to a lip of wood or stone that held the threshed grain in its storage place. I recall them from the granary in the barn from my childhood farm. I had to step or stumble across it into the storage space. You could trip over it and have a Humpty Dumpty fall.

In a similar way, we can face many “threshold experiences” in life and struggle to cross over them successfully into a new venture or challenge. This can often happen when we face a transition or crisis in our families. Such was my family’s situation as our ninety-seven-year-old mother fell and broke her hip requiring surgery, rehabilitation and then moving permanently to an assisted living facility. This meant dividing and donating nearly two-thirds of her earthly belongings. My siblings and I had quite a time arguing and debating about who would get the conch shell that had been in the family for several generations. “I played with it most often as a child”, said I. “Yes, but Mom let me take it to bed and listen to the sea sounds so I could get to sleep, so I should have it as it is comforting to me.” Said my sister. “And about that mirror, it fits with the dresser she gave me.“ “Yes, but while in high school I used it to dress and look in the mirror to brush my hair every day so I should have it as you have the dresser.”

And thus the arguments can go and become rather divisive.   I am happy to say that the above was fabricated and we had no such disagreements in handling the shell or mirror, but that is not often the case in the distribution of family treasures. When faced with very difficult decisions that affect a loved one and call for a meeting of the minds, there can be conflict and disagreement over important and serious decisions.

This is where Adams County Mediation Services can be of assistance. We provide trained mediators to meet with parties who have disagreements over varied issues that might concern you in the workplace, with neighbors, and even among family members. If the party who is at odds with you will not agree to meet with mediators, we also provide conflict coaching to guide you through the situation.

If you find yourself at such a Threshold and would like to avail yourself of such services, call 717-334-7312 and leave a message for the Mediation Services Intake Coordinator. MSAC will give a call back with more information and schedule an appointment with all parties concerned. Moderate fees, based on a sliding income scale, are charged at the time of mediation. Contact is available online at mediationac@yahoo.com or http://www.mediateadams.org

Rev. Lynn Cairns is a retired UMC pastor and MSAC board member.

PS The flamingo flock has just arrived from the southland and will be appearing in local neighborhoods. Donations are accepted by MSAC.

Resolving Conflict to Create Better Relationships

Conflict is a normal, necessary and natural part of life. It is uncomfortable for all the people in conflict and often for other close friends as well. Conflict presents two possibilities: opportunity for amazing growth in the relationship as well as possibility for additional problems. The challenge is to learn how to creatively work through the conflict to improve the relationship. Conflict is often more difficult to deal with when the disputant or opponent in the situation is a relative or good friend about whom one cares deeply. To keep the big picture of the relationship in view I will use “friend” when talking about the other person in the conflict.

It would be good to agree at the beginning of the conversation that both friends will work on the issue at hand and speak respectfully and honestly with each other. Paul Tillich said, “The first duty of love is to listen.” The most important task in a conflict situation is to listen to the friend, to learn and understand how s/he is feeling and is affected by what has happened. This can be difficult, as people tend to be ready to defend themselves when they have been hurt.

In talking with this friend it is important to use I-messages, which is saying how the situation affects you, rather than you-messages, which seem to come naturally, and tend to accuse or blame the friend, as in “You made me….” A good way to deal with this is to honestly tell the friend that certain words or actions were hurtful. It is essential to be ready to listen to the answer openly, willing to accept some criticism the friend may share.

A step that may be hard is to accept responsibility for your role in the cause for the conflict. In constructively dealing with the situation it is good to do everything you can to fix the source of the conflict. In an example of an item that was broken, this could include paying for, or sharing the cost, to fix or replace it.

Conflict often causes a break in the relationship, and that can be resolved with both friends accepting responsibility for words and deeds, then agreeing to share action to come back together. One priority to repair the relationship is to apologize for anything you may have done to cause the problem. Other steps might be to request forgiveness for any fault on your part and to offer forgiveness for any error by the friend.

Mediation Services of Adams County is available if you need help with this. MSAC wishes you a fulfilling year in 2017, full of love and peace, creating constructive resolution for all your conflicts.

Mediation Services of Adams County will present a 22-hour Mediation Training Friday/Saturday, March 24-25, and 31-April 1. For more information, please contact MSAC: phone 717-334-7312, email mediationac@yahoo.com, and website http://mediateadams.org. Find information about communication seminars we present and trained mediators available to help people resolve complicated conflicts with family members, neighbors, contractors, landlords, etc. for an economical fee based on income.

Mary Kay Turner is a retired teacher, who is a trainer, mediator, and board member for MSAC.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN RESPECT GOES AWAY

Respect and good communication, which includes listening as well as talking, are essential in healthy relationships. Fear, hate and anger are obstacles to healthy relationships and good communication. Bullying happens when one person or group shows disrespect or contempt for another person or group. Bullies speak, but they do not listen to or value other people.

Does bullying happen on a national scale? We all know that this primary season has been much different from anything before, as some people in the news have displayed disrespect and contempt for other people. We have heard name-calling, threats, talk of building a wall, deporting people, and banning people of certain cultures from entering the country.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program provides curriculum materials to teach students about different groups of people. This knowledge helps students understand students who are different from them and learn to treat all students with respect.

In March 2016 Teaching Tolerance in a voluntary survey asked teachers, observing before and after the presidential campaign began, if they agreed with statements about increases in 1) anti-immigrant sentiment, 2) anti-Muslim sentiment, 3) uncivil political discourse at their schools, and 4) concerns by students about what might happen to them after the election. Responses here are from the publication “Teaching the 2016 Election” by Maureen B. Costello.

About 2,000 K-12 teachers across the country responded to questions about the effects of the rhetoric of the campaign on their students. More than 2/3 of the teachers reported that many students of color have expressed concerns about what might happen to them and their families after the election. More than 1/2 have seen an increase in uncivil political speech. Teachers are troubled by use of half-truths and lies in speeches. Passion for candidates and loss of rationality in discussions concern them. More than 1/3 have seen an increase in anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim incidents. Students are calling other students names, even the n-word. Students have told teachers that name-calling and “trash talk” aren’t bullying, just “telling it like it is.” Teachers report that gains from years of anti-bullying work have declined in a few months.

Educators reported: A kindergarten student fearfully asks every day if the wall is here yet. Young students wonder why people can hate them without even knowing them. One teacher in a diverse school wrote that her students feel that America hates them. Students are confused by seeing that certain campaigns are allowed to encourage racism, violence, anger and hate. Many teachers wrote, “It breaks my heart.”

Students are scared, dejected, and hurt. Some African-American middle school students fear for their safety after seeing Trump rallies on the news. Students fear that they will be deported and that other students hate them. In Ferguson, MO, 90% of the students are African-American, and some students wonder if all white people truly think what they are hearing.

What does it say to us and our students when some candidates and people campaigning display behavior that is not even acceptable for students in elementary schools? Where is the respect?

 

Mary Kay Turner is a retired teacher, who is a trainer, mediator, and board member for Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC), which has trainers for communication seminars and trained mediators available to help people work to resolve conflicts with family members, neighbors, contractors, landlords, and others. An economical fee based on income is charged. If you would like to learn more about mediation, please contact MSAC: call 717-334-7312, email mediationac@yahoo.com or check our website http://mediateadams.org.

 

A TIME FOR THANKSGIVING

November is traditionally the month associated with being thankful. As families and friends join together on Thanksgiving, we still have much to be thankful for here in America. We have freedoms and rights and many advantages that people in other nations only dream about.   Many people in other lands do not have freedom of religion or the right to vote, let alone basic necessities such as food, clean water, and shelter.

While ours is not a perfect country, we do have systems in place to help those in need. In our own community, we have organizations such as Gettysburg Help, South Central Community Action Program (SCCAP), the Soup Kitchen, Ruth’s Harvest, and the Rescue Mission to help those in need. As members of the community, it rests on each of us who are more fortunate to lend a hand. And lend a hand, we do. One of the things I noticed when I moved to this area 2 ½ years ago is that the people of Adams County step up and help their fellow citizens by supporting any number of community organizations, supporting food drives and by volunteering. Another great example of support is the annual Giving Spree to be held on November 15th from 4-6:30PM at the Gettysburg Middle School. The Giving Spree offers each of us an opportunity to contribute to one of the many service organizations within Adams County.

However, holidays, even Thanksgiving, are often accompanied by stress. One way I have found to reduce stress associated with holidays is to write something I am thankful for each day. We can begin by being thankful for our faith, families, friends, our job, a good lunch, time spent with a friend, or just happy the sun is shining. Another way to express our thankfulness and improve relationships is to write something we are thankful for about a person or persons with whom we may have a strained relationship. Writing positive things about another person will help to lift our own spirits during the stressful times. Even if the only thing you think of at first is “I am thankful that Sally is organized” or “I am thankful that Pete always comes in on time”, it is a beginning. You will be surprised how much happier you will be doing these exercises each day. To add to our general well-being, we might want to follow Melchor Lim’s advice – “Talk about your blessings more than you talk about your problems”.

Stress during the holidays often leads to family conflict. If we are unable to resolve the conflict on our own, there are low cost resources available to help us. Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC) offers mediation, conflict coaching, anti-bullying and mediation training to assist members of our community. Don’t let holiday stress and conflict get you down. Look no further than MSAC as a resource to help you get through a conflict so you can fully enjoy your holidays.

Elly Cleaver is a retired Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist, trainer, mediator, and a board member of Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC). If you would like more information about mediation and other services available, please contact Mediation Services of Adams County, 717-334-7312, mediationac@yahoo.com on line, or check out the website, http://www.mediateadams.org.

Link

Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC) has elected a new President. Dr. Dennis R. McGough takes over from Dr. Janet Powers, who recently received an award from the organization for her dedication, leadership and many years of service as President.

The organization composed of a board of directors and 20 certified volunteer mediators, provides training in mediation and negotiation skills, as well as conflict resolution services for individuals in the Gettysburg area and beyond. This year, the organization added Conflict Coaching and facilitated discussions to the services it provides.

Besides the appointment of Dr. McGough, other newly elected MSAC officers include: Elly Cleaver, Training Director; Bob Smith, Finance Chair; Mary Kay Turner, Intake Coordinator; and Patricia Forsythe, who serves as the new Treasurer.

Dr. McGough is a retired senior human resources executive with more than 40 years of professional experience. He was Vice President, Human Resources for Olin Corporation, a manufacturer of chlor-alkali products and Winchester ammunition, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. McGough worked with the company for 31 years.

In addition to his professional human resource work, Dr. McGough was Distinguished Lecturer for the MA program in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at the University of New Haven for 31 years. In this role, he taught a variety of courses, including negotiation and mediation, organizational change and human resource development. Most recently, he was the Interim Coordinator for the Industrial/Organizational Psychology program.

Dr. McGough earned a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the Union Institute and University, an MA Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of New Haven and a BS in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. The University of New Haven has awarded him a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree.

Dr. McGough is currently a member of the Board of Governors of the University of New Haven and the Board of Directors of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of New York and Adams Counties, as well as Mediation Services of Adams County. Dr. McGough and his wife Donna live in Gettysburg; they have 3 grown children and 9 grand children.

Mediation Services of Adams County is a non-profit organization with expertise in mediation services. Its team of certified mediators trains organizations, businesses and individuals in negotiation skills and conflict resolution techniques. For information on the organization, visit their website at www.mediateadams.org. You may also contact MSAC by phone: (717) 334-7312 or by email: mediationac@yahoo.com.

Adeyemi Oshunrinade

July 26, 2016

CONFLICT RESOLUTION TRAINING OPPORTUNITY AT MEDIATION SERVICES OF ADAMS COUNTY

Conflict Resolution Training

Conflict Resolution Training

Rev. MATTHEW JURY

January 29, 2016

Conflict Resolution Training Opportunity at Mediation Services of Adams County

A football team trains regularly to handle the pressure of a game situation. While the athletes may study tapes of their opponents to learn their strategies and tendencies, they cannot predict exactly what the other team will do in a game. Training helps a team to explore alternative plays so they understand how to act and to respond under pressure.

We all face pressure daily, some of which we cannot predict or prevent. Few pressures weigh more heavily on us than conflict with others. Sometimes the stress is easily and quickly handled. Other times, the problem continues day in and day out with no end on the horizon. The uncertainty of conclusion itself aggravates us. What do you do when you have tried everything you know to do and said everything that needs to be said?

Consider conflict resolution training. Classes taught by certified trainers guide the class through the different steps of conflict resolution, also called mediation. You will learn about different perspectives and conflict styles. One session teaches skills such as overcoming communication blocks or barriers, using listening skills and reframing statements for clarification.

Participants are taught to identify problems and mutual interests as well as how to evaluate problem-solving ideas. The classes also learn how to prepare a written agreement with specific, measurable steps for both sides of a dispute. Between the course sections are enjoyable and practical break out sessions and role-playing scenarios. Elly Cleaver, retired Federal Government Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist, will lead this year’s training.

When you complete the twenty-two hour course, you are a certified mediator. You will be surprised how often you use your negotiating skills in daily life. You will also have the option to volunteer your skills to Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC). As need arises, our intake coordinator contacts individuals on our mediation team to negotiate between parties that contact MSAC. We offer other opportunities to advance your negotiating skills through other training events.

Who would benefit from mediation training? Anyone involved in customer service, sales, management, teachers, volunteers in community service agencies and organizations, and local government officers would benefit especially. The conflict resolution principles also benefit couples and families. In short, if you deal with people daily, you would find great value in the training sessions. As a pastor, I would encourage church leaders at all levels to consider conflict resolution training. Peacemaking lies at the heart of church leadership, and training will equip you to bring peace to a situation in your ministry.

The next MSAC training classes will be held at Gettysburg College’s Glatfelter Hall on April 1 from 1-5 pm, April 2 from 9 am – 5 pm, April 8 from 1-5 pm, and April 9 from 9 am – 5 pm. A registration fee of $275 is due by March 18. We offer one $75 scholarship for each non-profit organization represented at the training. For further information, please visit us online or send an email to mediationac@yahoo.com or call our helpline at (717) 334-7312.

Rev. Matthew Jury pastors Grace Bible Chapel in York Springs, PA and serves as a board member and certified mediator for MSAC.

THE GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY IN CONFLICT

Golden Opportunity in Mediation

Golden Opportunity in Conflict

 

Rev. Matthew Jury

September 2015

The Golden Opportunity in Conflict

Entrepreneurs Joe and Bill attend Rock Church. Both men occasionally do business with each other. Along the way, Joe refused to pay Bill for services rendered to the tune of several thousand dollars. Naturally, tensions rise between the men. Channels of communication close quickly. Before long, the two men sit on opposite sides of the church auditorium during worship services, pretending the other doesn’t even exist.

The problem festers, affecting the entire church. Some in the church refuse to take sides. Others throw themselves behind one or the other. The church leadership team says, “We’re not getting involved.” Ignoring the elephant in the room always creates more problems. Before long, the church finds itself divided over an issue it did not create.

Finally Joe stomps out of the church, taking some of his supporters with him, but the original problem remains unresolved. Both men sense disillusionment about church. Those who took sides lick wounds inflicted by others in the church family. Many wonder what happened to the church they love. The leadership team wonders what it could have done differently.

Conflicts arise everywhere, including at church. The author and apologist Francis Schaeffer wrote that churches should be distinctly different in the way they handle conflict. “It is in the midst of a difference that we have our golden opportunity,” writes Schaeffer. He further explains that there is nothing to see as long as the church meets in its “holy bundle.” Problems become a golden opportunity to show how the church ought to be different. Handling problems with Christian love reflects integrity of faith and practice.

The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5.17-19 that Christ became The Mediator, setting the pattern of mediation and giving us the responsibility to mediate. The church stands simultaneously as a witness and a symbol of mediation. Worshippers gather at church because they believe that mediation works and makes a difference in their lives.

Of all places, church ought to be a place to confront problems squarely in the middle of conflict, leaving one church for another does not ultimately solve the problem. For this reason, clergy and laymen alike must involve themselves in the mediation process. Helping people to reconcile with each other lies at the heart of the basic function of church leadership. To fall or to refuse to participate in the mediation process abdicates one of the most basic functions of church leadership.

Mediation Services of Adams County offers annual training equipping people of faith with practical tools and skills to address conflict in ways consistent with their creed. Trained mediators will guide the attendee through the mediation process, resulting in certification. The attendee may then use their skills to contribute to the harmony of their church.

Rev. Matthew Jury, pastors Grace Bible Chapel in York Springs, PA and serves as a board member certified mediator for MSAC. Please visit us online or contact us at (717) 334-7312, or by email at mediateac@yahoo.com.

RESOLVING CONFLICT AT WORK

 

Mediation ends Conflicts

Mediation ends Conflicts

ELLY CLEAVER

December 9, 2015

RESOLVING CONFLICT AT WORK

Are you experiencing conflicts in the workplace? Is it difficult to communicate with a co-worker, a supervisor or manager? When you get ready for work, do you get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach?   You are not alone. Conflict is inevitable and while it occurs in all aspects of life, workplace disputes often have a negative effect on productivity and work relationships.

Conflicts develop when our individual needs, wants, methods, goals, and values are different. A conflict is different from a disagreement because it is almost always accompanied by feelings of anger, frustration, and anxiety. Relationships fail or break down when the parties involved ignore or avoid the conflict, but in work situations, people normally have to continue to work together. Many employers recognize that managing conflict effectively is an essential skill for maintaining a cohesive and productive work environment.

As an employee there are some things you can do to deal with conflict more effectively. Conflict can be managed by learning and applying good communication skills and problem solving skills in your day-to-day interactions. In some conflicts, we become emotionally charged and our focus is on blame, fault, and responsibility (our positions). As we become entrenched in our positions, we unwittingly, “feed” the conflict by accusing, blaming or finding fault.

If we focus on individual needs and desires (our interests) and work with each other rather than against each other, we have a better chance for resolving the conflict. While uncovering the interests of each person in the conflict helps to pinpoint what triggered the conflict, problem solving techniques help us solve each issue the parties discussed. Most of us use problem-solving techniques at work every day. Unfortunately, we don’t realize that those same skills can be used to resolve conflicts.

If your attempts to solve the conflict are unsuccessful, then as an employee, you may use the traditional, formal systems available to you to settle a dispute such as the grievance process or Equal Employment Opportunity process. In recent years, mediation has increased in popularity because it is an informal problem solving process that saves time and is cost effective. The mediation process is designed to assist individuals in conflict with creating a mutual solution to their dispute.

Mediation is also helpful in improving communications and repairing relationships. Mediation differs from court processes because it is not designed to determine who is right or wrong. In mediation, the parties create their own agreement while the mediator acts as a facilitator. Unlike court proceedings where a judge decides the outcome, nothing is decided in mediation unless both parties agree to the terms.

If you elect to use a more formal process such as a grievance or other type of complaint process, someone else will decide the outcome for you. However, in the mediation process, you and the other person maintain control over the outcome. Which would you rather choose?

Elly Cleaver is MSAC Board Member and a retired Federal Government Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist.

 

 

COMMUNICATION: THE LINK TO BETTER UNDERSTANDING

 

Communication is key to dispute resolution

ELLY CLEAVER

JULY 6, 2015

COMMUNICATION: THE LINK TO BETTER UNDERSTANDING

Have you ever wondered why it’s such a problem to communicate with some people more than others? Do you find yourself avoiding people because you don’t want to deal with them? Well, you are not alone and here’s why….

Robert Fisher, author of Getting to Yes, says it this way: “Poor communication can lead to misunderstanding, unhelpful emotions, distrust, sloppy thinking, and poor outcomes”.

As we look at the process of communication, it seems there is responsibility on both the person speaking and the listener. As speakers, we must communicate a clear message while the listener is responsible for ensuring that he/she clearly understands what is being said.  As listeners, one of the things we can do is try to understand what the other person is thinking or feeling. The use of active listening skills may help you to begin understanding the other person’s message.

Active listening involves two important components: 1) restating what you think you heard and 2) reflecting your understanding of the message back to the speaker. Speakers, on the other hand, may stop periodically and ask if anyone has questions or understands what he/she is communicating.

Another dynamic involved in our daily communications, is our body language or nonverbal language. Rolling our eyes, putting our hands on our hips, raising an eyebrow, smiling, and nodding are all forms of nonverbal communication and have a huge impact on our communications. Being aware of the impact body language has on our communications with others may help us become better communicators.

Some body language is encouraging such as smiling or nodding while others, like putting our hands on our hips or working on another task may be distracting or seem confrontational. “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said,” observes Peter Drucker.

Communication Style is another factor that impacts our communications with one another. Most of us tend to speak in either a direct or an indirect style. A direct communicator is straightforward in his/her communications; the goal is simply an exchange of information. If you use an indirect form of communication, your listeners may have to read between the lines. If preserving harmony and strengthening the relationship is very important, the use of an indirect communication style can be beneficial.

Direct or indirect communication styles are used in a variety of communication settings. For instance, direct communication is important in an emergency, while indirect communication may be preferred when discussing a sensitive matter. Most of us use both communication styles; however, some of us have a tendency toward one style or the other, and these differences may lead to conflict.

What can you do to improve your communications with others?

Elly Cleaver is MSAC Board Member and a retired Federal Government Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist.