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A W-I-S-E APPROACH TO RESOLVING CONFLICTS

In college, one of my philosophy professors would frequently have the class debate a hot topic. He’d randomly divide the class in half and have each side present their best argument in support of their assigned position. Regardless of how you felt personally, you were expected to gather as many facts as possible to present the strongest argument. It was actually quite stimulating as it challenged us to be willing to see the issue from every possible perspective. This lesson has served me well in life as I have always tried to view a subject matter from all sides.
In relationships, disagreement are normal and healthy. They allow us to open our minds to new ways of thinking. In business, brainstorming is a common practice whereby team members contribute every possible idea relating to the project they are collaborating on. Even those suggestions that are deemed unworkable still have value as they oftentimes spark a fresh idea that actually proves to be helpful. In politics, when applied correctly, the opposing sides can actually use their differences to find common ground that will serve the good of the entire country. It’s only when egos get in the way causing people to become fearful, selfish, and closed minded do disagreements cause tempers to flare and a breakdown in the negotiating process to occur.

However, there is a very W~I~S~E approach to resolving conflicts and disagreements with a high degree of success and minimal disappointment to all parties:

W – Wait: wait before you respond. A moment of pause can prevent a lifetime of regret. When the other party presents their position, if it differs from ours or what we were expecting, we can easily become upset or angry. An immediate response can cause an innocent situation to rapidly escalate into an argument.

In my book, The Secret Side of Anger, I teach people to practice the SWaT Strategy: Stop, Walk, Talk. When you find yourself become upset, Stop what you are doing/saying. In that way you can prevent yourself from saying/doing something regrettable. Secondly, Walk away. Out of sight, out of mind. Give yourself some space between you and the other party. Thirdly, Talk yourself calm. What you say to yourself will either cause your emotions to intensify or to subside. Once calm, return to the conversation ready to listen and respond rationally and fairly.

I – Intellect: use your rational brain to think about what is transpiring: the importance of the issue, what each party wants, how each person feels, and what it is that you each want to accomplish with the discussion. Oftentimes, we allow our irrational emotions to control our actions and comments. But emotions cloud rational judgment. It is critical that we remain calm so that our intellectual brain can gather all relevant data, process it, and determine the best possible course of action. Just as emergency responders need to put their feelings on hold in order to deal effectively with the crisis at hand, so must we be willing to do the same. And in doing so, we will make smarter more solution-oriented and all-inclusive choices that benefit all parties.

S – See and Smile: Always try to see things from the perspective of the other party. In this way, you are better able to understand their position and proceed in a more compassionate manner. It is imperative that we truly try to understand where the other person is coming from even if we don’t agree with their way of thinking. All people need and want to be understood and validated. This simple gesture begins laying a foundation of trust that enables both parties to move forward in a fair and timely manner towards a mutually agreed upon solution.

Smile: Did you know that the simple act of smiling releases endorphins in the brain, those feel-good chemicals that enable us to keep a positive attitude? A smile keeps your face friendly and your voice cheerful as well. While this may not sound like a significant gesture, it is in fact a powerful one. Would you not prefer to converse with someone who had a friendly face as opposed to one sporting a scowl?
Smiles are contagious and make us appear more attractive to others. They can lift our mood as well as the moods of those around us and have been shown to lengthen our lives as well. A smile wards off stress which in turn enables us to remain calm and focused. Our bodies relax making us less threatening and more welcoming from a physical perspective. All things considered, a smile is one of the most powerful tools we have in maintaining healthy inviting relationships and getting those differences resolved peacefully.

E – Express: Throughout the entire process, be certain to always express with respect – speak to one another with dignity and reverence at all times. Even those we don’t care for, who can be obstinate or rude, deserve respect. Ironically, many believe that respect must be earned or given to us before we are willing to reciprocate. However, Divine Law dictates otherwise. “Let all that you do be done in love.” “Love one another.” By our very nature, we are perfect beings deserving of respect. The very word respect means “to value”. Our Creator imparted equal worth to each of His sacred children.
One can be passionate, upset, angry, disappointed, or disagree with the other person while still expressing themselves in a respectful manner. I cannot expect others to treat me with regard if I am not first willing to do so for them. Ghandi’s inspiring words remind us to first be the change we want to see in the world. I must be the example of reverence that others may aspire to emulate.

I’ve always admired those who possess the gift of wisdom. Now each of us can be W~I~S~E in how we resolve our differences. If each of us followed these four simple steps, by example we could have a dramatic impact on reducing the amount of anger, fighting, and negativity that occurs in our immediate circles. Gradually, this would impact us on global level as well. Put some good vibrations into the universe by keeping conflict resolution peaceful and productive. Be W~I~S~E and be triumphant.

Q “Speak from the heart. Let all your words be tempered with kindness and in doing so you will garner respect and cooperation from all.”

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Continuing from where we left off last week, remember that there is a time to speak and a time to keep our mouths shut. Here are more examples of when it’s best to remain silent:

11. When you are tempted to outright lie. People lie for a variety of reasons: to protect themselves or another person, out of fear of being judged or condemned, to create drama or damage another person’s reputation. Take a moment and reconsider, for those who lie will eventually be revealed and suffer scars upon their character as well as have to face the consequences of their actions. Proverbs 10:21 “The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of understanding.”

12. If your words will damage another person’s reputation or cause them any unnecessary hardships. We all have dirt on one another – those little secrets that others think we don’t know about. And we all have things about ourselves we would like to keep private. We have a choice as to whether we share that information with others or allow it to remain confidential. Before revealing anything that could possibly cause anyone any harm, examine your motives. Is this absolutely necessary that I do so or is it in the best interest of all to allow said information to remain concealed?

13. If your words will destroy a relationship, either yours or someone else’s. At times, we’ve all wanted to tell people what we really think about them. In the heat of anger, true feelings are often revealed without thought as to how they will affect either or both parties. Criticisms, complaints, bitterness, jealousy, judgments, and hatred can all destroy relationships. A moment of contemplation before speaking can prevent a landslide of devastation. Even those unkind words we say to ourselves can cause irreparable damage to our self-esteem. Make certain your words always emanate from a place of kindness.

14. When you are tempted to criticize. Constructive criticism is an oxymoron. It does not exist. It is a ploy that disguises a hurtful comment as helpful one. The one criticizing gains a sense of power over the other person, eliciting feels of shame, hurt, remorse, or self-loathing from them. Criticism in its authentic form is demoralizing and cruel. Keep in mind, too, that one must first live in a spotless house before condemning another’s. I recommend offering constructive suggestions to bring forth positive change.

15. If you can’t speak without yelling. Humans somehow believe that in order to gain someone’s attention or cooperation they must raise their voices to an extreme decibel level. “The louder I speak the more they’ll hear me.” Like the sound of loud construction equipment, people at excessively loud noises and take measures to protect their ears from damage. People either tune out shouting or, like me, physically remove themselves from the source. Take a deep breath before speaking and keep the volume at a reasonable level.

16. When it’s time to listen. Isaiah 50:4 “The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.” We are commanded to listen to and obey the Word of God. Keep in mind that God created two ears and only one mouth – for a reason! We are meant to listen twice as much as we speak. But listening involves more than just the ears: we must also be willing to listen with our hearts so that we may feel what the other is saying.

17. If you may have to offer an apology afterwards. Carpenters have a rule of thumb: measure twice, cut once. There is much wisdom in this ethic as one wastes less time and material by taking careful measures to make an accurate cut the first time. We would be wise to apply this knowledge to our words as well: think twice, speak once. Too often, we are careless in our choice of words and in retrospect realize they were not the best choice. In these cases, it becomes necessary to offer an apology for any insensitive comments we made. As powerful as an expression of remorse it, it cannot undo the damage our words causes. Like a board that was incorrectly cut, the carpenter can glue it back together but the blemish remains forever.

18. If you have already said it more than once. I have learned that people will either hear you or not. They will chose to understand you or not. Regardless of how often you repeat yourself, some people are simply not interested in what you have to say or they may not be capable of understanding it. You may offer a bit of clarity if the other person is unclear on what you meant. But to keep repeating the same thing over and over is called nagging. People turn a deaf ear to badgering.

19. When you are tempted to support, agree with, encourage, or condone a person’s bad behaviors. Would you ever advise your children to use drugs or drink and drive? Of course not. Any good parents would always encourage their children to make smart choices. Those who are believers in God teach them to live a morally righteous life, to follow God’s Commandments, to always be kind and honest. How, then can I support or condone immoral behavior from others? To tell my coworker to get even with a colleague who betrayed them is reprehensible on my part. To hope a criminal gets the death penalty for the heinous crime they committed violates Divine Law. Unless I can be the voice of reason, the bearer of virtuous behavior, I need to remain silent rather than give morally wrong advice. Ephesians 4:29 ” Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

20. When you are supposed to be working instead. There’s an interesting passage in the Bible in Proverbs 14:23 “All hard work brings a profit but mere talk leads only to poverty.” I have always had difficulty talking and working at the same time. I am unable to put my full concentration on the task at hand. In that regard, I would often make careless errors or costly mistakes. One needs to put their full mental concentration on the task before them in order to put forth their best work. Idle chatter is distracting and counter-productive.

21. When you’re fighting a losing battle. When disputes arise, we often feel compelled to continue to try and convince the other party that we’re right and they’re wrong. Unless we are dealing with facts, Truth, or issues of morality, differences are not necessarily an indication of being right or wrong. They are simply disagreements, each party seeing things from a different perspective. If you find yourself trying to prove your “rightness”, let it go. This type of behavior is all ego based: one needs to prove themselves superior over another.

22. When what you are about to say will only make matters worse. If someone has made an error or is feeling poorly about themselves, we have the option of being a light in the darkness for them, helping them to see the goodness in who they are, or contributing to their already low self-image. If your son doesn’t make the football team because he’s overweight and out of shape, offer some assistance in helping him to improve so he can try again next year or try out for a sport more suitable for him. Make certain that your words are always encouraging and uplifting.
Proverbs 21:23: “Whosoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from trouble.”

23. When you talk just to fill up the silence or to hear yourself talk. People are often uncomfortable in the silence. They feel compelled to offer a distraction by filling the space with words. However, as an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, idle chatter can be just as dangerous. Rambling can lead to all sorts of foolish statements, irreverent comments, offensive observations, rude humor, and so on. Additionally, when we are busy chattering we are not listening – to the other party or to God. Silence truly is golden for it is in the stillness that one hears the Word of God.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, o let your words be few.”

Conversation is highly overrated. There is both intelligence and beauty in silence. Listen to the stillness. Know when it’s best not to say anything at all.
Q: “Life isn’t a competition. It’s a cooperation. Until we are willing to stop fighting to prove our superiority and gain dominance over others and join together to uplift one another, we will never establish world peace.”

Order The Secret Side of Anger, Second Edition or The Great Truth @ http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html

Listen to past shows on iHeart Radio @ http://ow.ly/OADTf
Listen to my newest iHeart Radio show, BETWEEN YOU AND GOD, @ http://ow.ly/OADJK
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Google+

“20+ TIMES TO NOT SAY ANYTHING” Pt 1

There are so many times in our lives when we realize after the fact that it would have been in our best interest to have kept our thoughts to ourselves. Words are powerful and can make matters better or cause damage to others or get us into a whole lot of trouble. There is much wisdom in the old adage to “think before you speak”, sage advice for us to follow throughout our entire lives. The Bible tells us that there is a time to reap and a time to sow, a time to laugh and a time to cry. There is also a time to speak and a time to keep our mouths shut. Here are more than twenty such times:

1. When we are angry or upset. Emotions fuel our behavior including our choice of words. Intense emotions, such as anger, cloud rational thinking and oftentimes propels us to say hurtful or rude comments that may cause pain to the other party, damage our relationship with them, or get one or more of us in trouble. Give yourself time to calm down and cool off before speaking. Refer to the SWaT Strategy in my book, The Secret Side of Anger. Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”

2. When we speak before knowing all of the facts. How often do we open our mouth before knowing all the details of what we are commenting on? We see a scratch on our car when coming out of the store and assume the person closest to it with the overflowing shopping cart is responsible for the damages. We immediately accuse them of wrongdoing. Doing so shows little regard for their feelings and zero interest in deciphering the truth. One only seeks a target for their ire. Therefore, make certain your brain is in gear before your mouth is in motion.

3. When you comment on an issue before verifying that it is true. Our political system is highly volatile, in part, due to accusations and assumptions being perpetrated by the media and others before fact checking to see if their information is correct. Misinformation, lies, assumptions can all lead to unnecessary drama and hardship. Make certain your source of information is accurate before commenting. “Those who seek the truth ask questions. Those who are uninterested form judgments.”~ Janet Pfeiffer

4. If your choice of words will hurt or offend the other party. It’s important to be truthful to one another even when we are not happy with them. However, one can politely state how they feel and do so while showing sensitivity towards the other. There are multiple ways of saying the same thing: choose the one most respectful. Imagine how you would feel if those same comments were directed at you. Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

5. If your words do not reflect Divine Love. Imagine how Jesus would have spoken to others. Will your words be reflective of His compassion and kindness? One need not believe in Jesus to follow His example of benevolence towards humanity. 1Corinthians: “Let all that you do (say) be done in love.” Temper your words with kindness, always.

6. When you are tempted to make light of a serious situation. Joking about that which is sinful, illegal, immoral, or painful to another is insensitive and in poor taste. We must always show reverence for that which is a violation of Divine or civil law or common decency. Compassion towards others enables us to refrain from minimizing another’s suffering. Sometimes we do so in an attempt to ease our own discomfort in the situation but to do so is insensitive to others.

7. When you would regret your words later. Once spoken, words cannot be retracted. Even an apology cannot erase the damage hurtful words can do for once released they can live inside the receiver’s mind for a lifetime. Said once; replayed for eternity. Therefore, carefully choose only those words that you would feel comfortable with knowing they will live on forever.

8. When you are tempted to use God’s Name in conjunction with an offensive comment. Society has pretty much deemed it acceptable to combine the Name of the Lord with profanity and along with phrases of disdain. To do so is an offense to the One who is Purity, Light, and Love. Unclean comments are an abomination to the Lord. The Third Commandment states “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Choose alternative phrases to express your displeasure.

9. If your words are misleading or convey the wrong impression. For someone to misrepresent themselves as something other than who they are is deceitful and wrong. In some cases, it can be illegal (such as an EMT misrepresenting themselves as a medical doctor). To make wrongful insinuations about another person or situation with the deliberate intent of misleading others is a poor reflection on your character as well as being unjust to the other party. Actions of this nature can be accompanied by serious consequences to yourself as well as others.

10. If the issue is none of your business. MYOB is great advice: mind your own business. How often do we feel compelled to comment on that which is not our concern? By intervening, we often contribute too much information or information that others may not need to know or should not know about, give inappropriate advice or make improper comments, or offend others by becoming involved in a private matter. Think twice before joining a conversation that you have not been invited into.

11. When you are tempted to outright lie. People lie for a variety of reasons: to protect themselves or another person, out of fear of being judged or condemned, to create drama or damage another person’s reputation. Take a moment and reconsider, for those who lie will eventually be revealed and suffer scars upon their character as well as have to face the consequences of their actions. Proverbs 10:21 “The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of understanding.”

12. If your words will damage another person’s reputation or cause them any unnecessary hardships. We all have dirt on one another – those little secrets that others think we don’t know about. And we all have things about ourselves we would like to keep private. We have a choice as to whether we share that information with others or allow it to remain confidential. Before revealing anything that could possibly cause anyone any harm, examine your motives. Is this absolutely necessary that I do so or is it in the best interest of all to allow said information to remain concealed?

Words can hurt or words can heal. There are times when it is far more intelligent and compassionate to remain silent. Think carefully before speaking. Next week, we’ll continue with even more occasions when it is better to not say anything at all.