Tag Archives: conflict mediation

Talking to People

What is life all about?

What is the one thing that we have to do all the time?

How do we get ahead in our business careers, personal and spiritual lives?

The only answer to these questions is – Talking to People!

I had the morning off yesterday and I had some business to do at my local police station. I always dread going to a government office because of the perceived inefficiency, corruption and other horror stories which I am sure are more urban legends than general common experience!

I decided, as I was parking my car, to see how many people I could talk to. Not just ask questions about what I wanted to know, but actually engage with people, talk to them as fellow humans.

My experience was astounding!

I discussed the merits of drinking hot water with ginger, mint and lemon instead of coffee and tea to help people who are reporting traumatic incidents. An old and wise sergeant debated the stages of a personal relationship as his father taught it to him – in depth insights on infatuation, love, parenting and friendship. The cashier lady discussed concepts of honesty and integrity that they encourage at that station and how that has helped her teenage children, and I sat in on an impromptu lesson given to patrol officers by a private security officer on how to approach a suspicious vehicle!

Who would have thought that there was such a depth and diversity of knowledge and human experience at a simple community police station?

What other human insights are out there that we miss in the hustle and bustle of our daily grind?

As best you can, take some time to talk to the humans around you. You will be surprised at the depth and value that will be added to your life!

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Filed under depression, Stress Management and Life Coaching

Looking Deeper

Rank is but a Guinea Stamp, the man himself s the gold” Rudyard Kipling or Robert Burns

An interesting line from a piece of poetry called The Tyler’s Toast. I have heard that line many many times yet I never really listened to the words. Suddenly, the other day, while sitting in the blackout induced traffic, this very line started to repeat again and again in my mind. It made so much sense!

If we look around us at the economic and political turmoil, at the success and suffering of others on this wonderful planet of ours, one single truth stands out. That truth is; success, wealth, servitude and suffering are totally irrelevant to who we are. Our unique identity is encapsulated in the outer veneer of human experience.

During my time trading in Africa and the four years I spend exposed to incredible township poverty as a Twasa, I noticed that a lot of the time the people who have a huge impact on others are themselves experiencing that same discomfort or reduced circumstance as their peers, yet they choose to make a difference. I could fill your hard drive of cases like the old lady who turned her shack into a refuge for homeless old people, the high school children who took it upon themselves to teach the younger children when their teachers were on strike, the car guard who helps an elderly woman into her new BMW, the family who pays for their domestic workers education or the business man who buys the petrol attendant a cool drink on a hot day.

The next time you are having a bad day, when things are not going as you planned, take a moment to look around you, look at random people from all walks of life and social status and fantasize. Think of the possibilities of the good that they are quietly doing in the world. Scratch the surface in your imagination and see the children of the trash collector having supper, or the farmer in his bakkie collecting medication for a farm worker, the person next to you in the traffic with a surprise sweet or magazine for their child or loved one. Look around and enjoy the wonderful quirky nature of humanity and see if you can make a difference in your life by making a difference in some one else’s.

A simple smile can go a long way to helping us all have a better day!

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Listening

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply” Stehpen R. Covey

How often to you feel as if you have been heard?

How often do you understand what is being said to you?

Do we listen carefully, or do we listen to others and try to understand their perspective, or do we listen with the intention of being right?

The intricacies of verbal communication are dependent on culture, society, belief, emotion and perceived position. No wonder most of us don’t always say what we mean or hear with is being said!

Problems arise when our ability to speak and listen efficiently are compromised. In the moment of conversation, make a point of first listening to the words that people are saying, then analysing the context from which the words are coming. This should allow you to find a more stable meaning or intention behind the words.

If you have any doubts, ask the person to repeat what they have said, or like a good waitron in a restaurant, summarise what has been said and repeat it back to the person for clarity.

If you have the time, you can try to link listening to writing. Sometimes when I facilitate mediation between parties, I get one party (A) to speak, and the conflicting party (B) to write down exactly what is being said. Once this is done, the conflicting (B) party reads back what has been written, and corrections of meaning are made. Then the parties then swap roles.

This is a wonderful, non invasive, non conflicting way for people to work through potentially emotionally volatile negotiations or meditations and arrive at a meaningful outcome. The writing allows both parties to express themselves clearly and to listen carefully to what is being said, as well as facilitating greater understanding of what is intended.

This week, do your best to speak clearly, and think things through before you speak. Listen with intention to everything people are saying, then formulate your response. Take time to be clear and get clarity and you will reduce frustration and conflict!

Ask yourself:

What is being said?

Why is the information presented in this way?

How can I convey my meaning to others clearly?

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