Monday, February 23, 2015

Why Conflicts Don't Get Resolved

Why Conflicts Don't Get Resolved
For more about NVC, check out my blog post:  How to Transform Your Relationships.  

I've been having a problem with this guy. This has made me so upset and so angry, although I have calmed down somewhat, thank goodness.

I am a very private person and it's important to me to maintain clear boundaries. When I think someone is trying to force himself or herself on me, I get very defensive. My barriers go up and they are not coming down! I know this because I know what I am like, and how I tend to react to this kind of situation.

I'm going to break this down. We have an NVC (Nonviolent Communication) group at the London Buddhist Centre and this guy came along. The group is for Buddhists, but we decided to open it up to include people who have done a Buddhism course. This could be anybody who has done a Buddhism course, they don't have to be Buddhists. 

This guy came along – let's call him Fred (not his real name).  I asked him if he is a Buddhist and he said he had done a vipassana meditation retreat.  So I told him we would like him to do a Buddhism course and he said, cool, he was interested in learning about Buddhism. 

A couple of weeks later, we updated the mailing list and, prior to doing a mailing, I asked Fred if he had signed up for a Buddhism course.  It transpired he hadn't.  So I said, you will be welcome once you complete a Buddhism course.

Then he started saying we were “excluding people”.  Remember, it has been clearly stated that this group is for Buddhists, and we meet at the London Buddhist Centre.

Later on, after a series of emails, Fred started saying he had done a Buddhism course. He never mentioned this before.  He also said he had done the vipassana retreat three times.

Apparently, he is now saying he did it six times.  I have stopped reading his emails and told him not to write to me again.   Of course, he continued to send me emails.  As I said, my barriers are up and they are not coming down.

The thing that pisses me off the most is that he keeps saying things like “I'm confused”, “I'm baffled”, and there's nothing confusing or baffling going on here.   My communication has been very clear.

Someone trying to argue and pressure his way into the group simply does not cut it with me.

To break this down, in NVC, we would not say something like “You are excluding people”. This is an interpretation.  We would say something along the lines of, “I am upset because I think you are excluding me”.

Also, I could say that he is lying, but this is an interpretation.   It could also be called “jackal speech”, i.e., speech that disconnects us from each other, such as blaming and labelling.  So I prefer to say, “He keeps changing his story”.

In NVC, we try to be as factual as possible.  Instead of saying, “Such-and-such happened”, we say, “I remember such-and-such happening”.  The truth is that people remember things differently.   I can only be responsible for what I remember. 
Similarly, for me to say he is “ trying to argue and pressure his way into the group” is an interpretation, not an observation.

One of the most important lessons to be learned from this is that if we want someone to respect our feelings and needs, we first need to connect with theirs – genuinely and from the heart.  If Fred had connected with my feelings and needs, I would probably have been a lot more willing to listen to his.  Instead, I just want to have nothing to do with him now. This is how conflicts go unresolved.

It takes a lot of practice to learn NVC and I am not always able to use or apply the level of skill I would like to.

As I said, I am calming down about the whole thing now.   Even if I don't receive empathy from Fred or from others, I can still give empathy to myself.   This can be a very rewarding experience.

For more about NVC, check out my blog post:  How to Transform Your Relationships.  

I welcome your comments below.