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Friday, 28 August 2009

Are you Surviving or Thriving?

I think I am currently experiencing a certain phenomena. In true phenomenological style, I am noticing an increase in conflict behaviour all around me. For example, we have had a marked increase in the grievance / dispute resolution side of our work for clients recently. I canvassed a few of my HR Director and practitioner clients and colleagues - and their experience concurs with mine. So, although not a statistically valid sample or empirical research (in case you are reading this Professor Walton!) I am still wondering where it is all coming from.

My hunch is that the energy to thrive is being used up in a struggle to survive in some situations. The rigidity of defensive survival mode and the energy it takes to maintain it takes it out of us and conflict, poor relationships, resentment and petty reactions become our default position.

I am using that hunch as I am preparing to facilitate a particularly complex and potentially explosive meeting between two warring work colleagues (for a client - not my own!) and I find that the damaging direct and ripple effects of conflict is on my mind. I am also trying to separate the work practices contribution from the personal issues in a deeply damaged relationship.

As always, when planning deep work, I dive into the tranquil waters of Will Schutz and The Human Element for the eclectic mix of scientific with spiritual and practical application, therapeutic tough love and unfathomed wisdom. 

Sure enough, in my facilitator notes, I fnd the questions I need to work with in the chapters on Concordance Decision Making that will help me guide them to find their own answers for their work practices. As always, the issues ebb, flow and crash around the big rocks of inclusion, control and openness.

No real work can begin until those three wants are recognised and acknowledged in a state of awareness. Once that happens, then we can move forward into the space created through mutual understanding where Will insisted that "everyone is 100% responsible and no-one is to blame". Once this point is reached, there is no turning back, hiding or blaming - the only way to go is forward.

I find the process for conflict dissolution using the Human Element method is stuctured and provides safe boundaries for all concerned. From that structure that I now know I will use, are some key questions to ask if we are to use our energy wisely for thriving in relationships with ourselves as well as others:

Which of the things I accuse you of are also true of me?
Which of the things I accuse you of do I think you feel about me?
What personal fears of being ignored, humiliated or rejected do I have in this issue / relationship?
How important it is to me personally to be paid attention to, to look competent and be liked?
and the $64,000 question - what do I do to prevent a solution?

The honest answers to these questions provide choices for surviving - or thriving - in conflict situations.

The man was a genius - thank you Will Schutz for the work and your legacy - and to Ethan Schutz and Pat Young for teaching me so well.

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