Let us suppose that you and another person are in a conflict. The other person, however, has more power in the situation than you. It might be a parent, a boss or an overbearing neighbor or an angry spouse or a person who is physically much larger than you. In an effort to end the conflict quickly, that other person shuts off discussion by saying something like….
●Why???? Because I said so!
●If you don’t make this right, I will sue you for everything you’ve got!
●Don’t argue with me! Just do it!
●I don’t care if you have to stay here until midnight. I want it finished and
on my desk by 9:00 am tomorrow morning!
●You’ll do it my way or else!
What we have here is a situation where one person – the other party – is attempting to force you into accepting their solution rather than making a joint effort to find a mutually acceptable resolution to the issue. As a result, not only will you leave the battlefield feeling like a loser, you will be filled with (righteous) resentment. Your feelings of being victimized in such a manner will eventually lead to:
●increased chances for a subsequent conflict; and
●long term damage to the relationship.
Resentment is a bitterness that does not dissipate with time. It eats you up internally. It does more harm to the person doing the resenting (you) than it does to your target. Here are some of the results of carrying around a lot of resentment toward another person.
●you will assume that your “loss” is the other person’s gain
●you will spend energy thinking of ways to retaliate
` ●your opinion of the other party will become distorted to justify your hostility
●your energy will be directed against the other person rather than against the issues involved
●your thoughts will emphasize the differences between you rather than the similarities
●your future interaction with the other person will no longer be based on objective reason and facts but on negative emotions
●you will have a continuing expectation of conflict with that person.
It is easy to say that you have to stand up for what you believe in the face of such aggression – which by the way is the answer – but that is very difficult to do. Here are some helpful strategies for you to use so that you avoid building up resentment.
●Remember that the other person may be using aggression as a manipulative strategy to get their way.
●Think of yourself as an immoveable wall with a foundation ten feet into the ground.
●Keep your hands at your sides – no clenched fists.
●Your voice should be firm but at normal speaking level.
●Maintain direct eye contact.
●Utilize open-ended questions to force the other person into thinking more rationally.
Here are some questions you might use to encourage negotiation and further discussion:
…How exactly does that solve the problem for both of us?
…How does your solution gain my commitment?
…I understand your position but I am unwilling to do that. What would it take for us to find a more compatible solution?
…I realize you are angry and want a quick resolution. I am uncomfortable with quick fixes. Why don’t we discuss this further?
…How would you feel if I said that to you?
DeAnne’s Anger Tips
Do not make today’s solution tomorrow’s problem by running away from your anger with the use of nicotine, caffeine, alcohol or drugs. Such stimulants provide some temporary relief and escape from the anger and aggravations of daily life. However, in the long run, they actually intensify and make toxic your feelings of rage and hostility. Stimulants speed up the nervous system making a person more easily aroused and excitable – more emotionally sensitive and anxiety ridden.
Last Week’s Scenarios
Your 22 year old daughter is enrolled in a great college near your home; because of a romance, she wants to transfer…….
The worst thing you can do is tell your daughter, “If you transfer, we will refuse to fund your education altogether.” The second worst thing you can do is try to talk her out of her romance. Best to tell her that if she wants to transfer, you will continue to pay exactly what the local college costs. However, any costs over that sum she will have to find the additional funds herself.
You are the manager of a successful advertising agency. One of your employees has created a costly and elaborate ad…….
Get a total cost figure for the elaborate ad. Then gather some other ads for similar products done by other agencies. Finally, show this information to your employee and ask her to work out a cost/benefit analysis which would convince the client to foot the bill for such an elaborate ad. The thing is you cannot tell your employee that for this type of product, the ad she created is way off base without discouraging her creativity. The employee has to come to that analysis herself but you can lead her in that direction with the appropriate information.
In your small town, a huge brick building has become available. Some want to build low-income housing others want a trendy shopping mall…..
Here again is a situation where the appropriate information might avert a disastrous conflict in your little town. You might present the following data:
●the cost of rehabbing the building into apartments
●the cost of rehabbing the building into a shopping mall
●number of apartments the building might accommodate
●number of trendy shops the building might accommodate
●the amount of total rental income from the apartments
●the amount of total rental income from the trendy shops
●the amount of population necessary to support a mall of trendy shops
●the distance between the proposed mall and the nearest established mall
●cost of additional police and fire protection for the low income families
●the families have children; can the school system accommodate them?
●the cost of additional sewerage and water connections for the families.
This information just might encourage your little town to leave the building as it is and wait for some manufacturing company to make use of it for jobs.
This Week’s Scenarios
A very good friend of yours at work tells you she has met a great guy who would be perfect for you. You agree to meet him via cell phone and, since he sounds and looks reasonably nice, you make a date for dinner. Grant Julian arrives on time at your door well dressed. He is not a handsome man but he has a rugged look about him that you find very attractive. He tells you he has made a reservation at a quiet restaurant so that you two can talk and get to know one another.
The restaurant turns out to be an expensive one. The food is wonderful and the conversation flows along beautifully. However, as he talks about his life and employment, you become aware that Grant is quite a narcissist. He is the center of his world. He expects that those people he interacts with are there to make his life rewarding and satisfying. You also glean that when his expectations are not met, he can become extremely angry and hostile.
Later, on your doorstep as you are saying your good nights, Grant suddenly grabs you by the waist and attempts to force you into a big sloppy kiss. You push him away saying, “What in the hell do you think you are doing?”
Grant: I made quite an investment in you this evening so I thought we should have a little sex as an after dinner treat.
You: What you invested in this evening was my company, not my body. Let me reimburse you for my half of the dinner (hand Grant 50.00).
What kind of a life-partner do you think Grant would make?
A very good friend of yours at work tells you she has met a great guy who would be perfect for you. You agree to meet him via cell phone and, since he sounds and looks reasonably nice, you make a date for dinner. Philip Ellis shows up at your door two minutes early. Although he is dressed casually in a sports shirt and slacks, everything is pressed and tidy. His hair is cut very short. His appearance screams ex-military. He suggests a nearby coffee shop as an appropriate venue to get acquainted.
In the coffee shop, your conversation is rather one-sided; he talks and you listen. You learn he is a man of strong moral and ethical principles. He believes in God and the sanctity of marriage, the American way of life and the value of hard work. He also believes there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything. For him there is no middle ground. He appears to have a narrow, rigid way of dealing with the world. From the stories he tells you of his life and work situation, you glean that he is organized, over-scheduled and compulsive. Moreover, any interruption of his plans leads to frustration and anger.
What kind of a life-partner do you think Philip would make?
A very good friend of yours at work tells you she has met a great guy who would be perfect for you. You agree to meet him via cell phone and, since he sounds and looks reasonably nice, you make a date for dinner. Ollie Banks shows up 30 minutes late looking as if he dressed himself from a Goodwill giver-away bin. He tells you he’s been so busy he nearly forgot your date. He suggests a quick bite at McDonalds so the two of you can get better acquainted.
Over Big Mac’s and cokes, you learn Ollie is currently between jobs but has been working part time at a local hardware store. When you ask him about his future employment goals, he says he’s not particular but he would like something that pays well but is not too demanding. He likes his free time. He has lots of interests like motorcycling, baseball and paintball. He tells you stories of things he and his buddies have done recently such as camping, fishing and golfing. At age 34, Ollie sounds more like a college kid on summer break.
What kind of a life-partner would Ollie make?