Thoughts on Conflict

Expecting Conflict

Posted by on Mar 1, 2016 in Communication, Conflict Theory, Expectations | Comments Off on Expecting Conflict

Expectations are so intertwined with conflict that it deserves another blog – probably deserves many blogs

An interesting challenge with expectations is that they are rarely discussed. We expect people to be on time, understand the situation, stay calm, have a back-up plan, finish their part, know that a subject bothers us – and the list goes on and on and on. We expected something different than what developed.

Each conflict contains some expectation. Someone forgot a birthday, did not finish a project, interrupted me, fell behind on a payment, did not call, or missed a meeting. On a larger scale, the courts are overrun with cases because someone broke a law, which is an expectation of society.

Are expectations, then, bad? It depends. Where they discussed and agreed upon? An expectation may be the only relationship between two people. If I ordered coffee and paid for the coffee, I expect the coffee. If my car is broken and I paid for it to be fixed, I expect it to be fixed. When I pay to have my car fixed and it is not, that is when the conflict begins. I can negotiate, withhold payment, advertise that I did not get what I wanted, or even go to small claims court.

When I have an expectation of others that are not discussed, agreed upon, or even acknowledged by the other, then I am in trouble. I have no control over any other person: only myself. I can choose good people to be in my life, but I can never choose what they will or will not do. I can, though, choose to do what I need to do in a response to their actions. That is freedom.


Posted by on Jan 3, 2016 in Communication, Conflict Theory, Expectations | Comments Off on Expectations

The Power of Reasonable Life Choices

New Year summons us to let go of the past year and look with optimism to beginning a new one. It is estimated that 45% of the population make resolutions for the coming year. The underlying message of a resolution is an expectation. “I will lose ten pounds because I expect of myself that I am able to do so.” In reality, seventy-three percent of those who make resolutions quit before realizing their goal. This is when the hammer of expectations slams down on us. We cannot even live up to our own expectations! In other words, we have failed – again.

Whenever we have an expectation – of a situation, of others, or of ourselves – we are setting ourselves up for anger, disappointment, and loss of trust. Why? An expectation has a specific result. Unless that result is realized, even by a hair of a margin, there is no win. In short, there is no glory in losing five pounds if we are unsuccessful in our expectation of losing ten pounds.

What about others? The rule in conflict is that we have no power – NO power – in controlling anything or anyone but ourselves. That is the reality. Some of us live stressful lives thinking that somehow we can change the attitude, behavior, or the beliefs of another person. We can change our own, but if there is change for another person, the other person is the only person who can do it.

For next year, we cannot expect our children to be smarter, our friends to be dependable, our husband or wife to quit drinking, our employer to be kinder, or our city to be safer. We can, though, be wiser and know that we can make reasonable choices about my life. And the power of that is amazing.

The Enemy

Posted by on Oct 12, 2015 in Communication, Conflict Theory, Self-help, Self-Mastery, The enemy | Comments Off on The Enemy

picture of evil faceIn his book, The Gulag Archipelago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn said,

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”

Enemy thinking is creating a ‘them’ out there who are the culprits of all evil. ‘They’ are responsible for societal problems. As long as we can point a finger at a certain group, the rest of us can blame and complain – feeling, of course, that we have done nothing to cause problems.

If honesty does set us free, we need to realize that we cannot be separated from those around us. The reality is that organized societies have cracks that people fall through. Poverty, mental health issues, equal opportunities, loopholes that are created for corporations or the wealthy, deals made at all government levels that hurt and even injure citizens, and a plethora of other conditions underlie major problems in society.

Individuals vote constantly for a certain way of life: with their political votes, financial decisions, what they ignore or choose to pay attention to, involvement in one’s own community, getting educated on issues, or even making problems a focus of discussion rather than looking the other way. When citizens take a stand, things change.

There is no ‘them’ out there; there is only us. Like Pogo said in his comic strip, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”