“The message is, don’t fight dirty!” Dr. Rick and his colleague Reverend John Des Chenes came to our weekly Incubator Meeting on February 1, to discuss conflict resolution strategies that can be used in everyday situations. Incubator Meetings are held each Wednesday from 10:00-11:30. Dr. Rick has been practicing psychotherapy for 25 years, and dedicated most of his life to trying to bring peace to communities through conflict resolution. Dr. Rick believes, “words should not be used as weapons to destroy the other person.”
When we are angry it is sometimes easy to slip into dirty fighting tactics. This can take a variety of forms such as raising our voices, name-calling, and accusatory remarks. These outbursts can often make an uncomfortable situation worse. Some additional dirty fighting tactics include overgeneralizing, blaming, and labeling.
Successful conflict resolution is all about communication and being able to gently bring up difficult issues that may be infiltrating our daily lives. Dr. Rick and John Des Chenes began the session by asking what we like most and least about our hometown. Participants described things they liked most about their town such as having friendly people, the free bus system, and small town charm. Things they liked least included the rundown sidewalks, racism and prejudice, and the never-ending potholes. This exercise aimed at getting to the idea that even though we may like something very much, there is always something we like less. The things we like less are often things that cause conflict, and it is important to get those problems out in the open.
Participants then had time to role play a scenario in which there was a conflict between a landlord and their tenant. Reverend John Des Chenes played the role of the landlord, Fred, and a community member, Marcie, played the role of the tenant, Charlotte. Charlotte has a physical impairment and would like Fred to install grab bars in the shower to prevent injuries. However, Charlotte is often late with her rent, and Fred is hesitant to do this expensive favor for her when she has not shown to be reliable. Dr. Rick played a mediator and showed us that compromise is often the key to helping both parties. The compromise in this scenario was as follows: if Charlotte can get her rent in much closer to the time it is due, Fred will install the shower bars. Additionally, Fred would reduce the rent by $20-40 a month if Charlotte completes tasks such as keeping the walkways clear and disposing of trash. Dr. Rick asked us to think, “What can I do in return for your help?” We must think about compromise as both giving and receiving, it is a negotiation.
It can sometimes be intimidating to approach someone or a situation that is causing conflict in our lives. By peacefully approaching the conflict and compromising on a solution, both parties can be happy with the outcome. Dr. Rick and Reverend John Des Chenes left us with the parting words, “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”
By: Lauren White