Conflict: Permanent Solutions Based on Creative, Radical Change

A bully is not a friend - at first.     From the book  "Can Dragons and Frogs Be Friends?"

A bully is not a friend – at first. From the book “Can Dragons and Frogs Be Friends?”

Yes, it’s tough to find an answer to  conflict.

At present, the goals to finding solutions to conflict range from ‘winning and domination’ to ‘reconciliation and unification’. Counselors in schools and businesses, diplomats and mediators at the national level attempt to defuse conflict with these methods.  But, do they solve it?

In the scenario of most conflict resolution, each opposing viewpoint gives up something until both sides are satisfied.  But, is this really resolution? If there is an underlying ‘simmer waiting to boil’ that wants one’s own viewpoint to ‘win’, then the conflict is only on the back burner. To truly dissolve a conflict,  a creative, radical approach must tempt both sides into a better,  so-far-unidentified, solution.

New geometry. The typical approach to mediation begins with a straight line with the opposing viewpoints at each end.  Each group/person gives up or modifies their viewpoint and moves toward the middle until each side is satisfied.  In the new approach, use a triangle. Write the goal above it.  Then, put each opposing viewpoint in a bottom corner.  Clearly identify each side’s viewpoints. Then, toss them out!  Work to find totally new viewpoints/solutions.  Wipe out any lingering preferences for the original conflicting viewpoints.

To consider the importance of radical changes in viewpoints, read Can Dragons and Frogs Be Friends?  The ‘soon-to-be dinner’ frog offers to help the dragon solve his problem.  This is radical change #1. He is not treating him as the enemy.  Then,  he deserts the other frogs to help the dragon. Radical change #2, the frog is willing to stand alone.

Next, is the frog’s persistent offers to help the dragon which equals radical change # 3. He is determined to help him at all costs.   This defies the usual interaction of dragons eating frogs.  Radical change #4 happens when the frog willingly ignores, then disproves, the ancient forest legend regarding the inevitability of conflict. It is often the history, the past, that straitjackets finding a solution.

These radical changes on the part of the frog disarm the dragon.   Recognizing the frog’s shift in attitude, the dragon shifts his perception of the frog and accepts his help. This is the dragon’s radical change #1. When a second dragon arrives on the scene and threatens to eat the frog, the first dragon defends and protects him – radical change #2. His defense is so thorough that the second dragon expresses gratitude toward the frog and does not eat him. That was definitely a radical change!

The success of this ‘higher viewpoint‘ mediation method is the willingness of everyone to completely give up the past – what others have said and done – and  then recognize and prove what is good and useful about the ‘enemy’.  This requires a lot of creative thinking and a true willingness to change.  It usually happens when both sides are about to wipe each other out.

I admit this approach appears to be based on the “love your enemy” concept. But, it is not. Loving the enemy as an enemy, still sees him as your enemy. It is the  gaining and holding a different viewpoint of him that causes the radical and positive change. This higher, better viewpoint is gained when the ‘enemy’ becomes a cohort, a friend, and someone worth knowing.  With that radical change, comes the creative solution to conflict.

Defuse Bullying Behavior

book cover

Everyday bullies are everywhere. A clerk delays waiting on one person while serving others who arrived later.

A parent makes a comment in a public place guaranteed to set the child off or vice-verse.  A ‘double bully’ is one person allowing the bullying behavior of another to continue. It takes diligence to defuse the actions that squash someone’s right to the pursuit of happiness.

One approach to stop this behavior is your willingness to act differently. “To change others, begin with yourself.” Pay attention to your thoughts. “What you think, you become.” Are you thinking angry thoughts? This form of ‘mental bullying’ leads to ‘outward bullying’.  Worse, it attracts a bully to you. “Like attracts like.”

In my book Can Dragons and Frogs Be Friends? the bully, a fire-breathing dragon, chases and eats frogs. When the dragon is in trouble, a frog takes a chance and changes his own behavior. This causes the dragon’s viewpoint of the frogs to change, and he stops being a bully and discovers a friend.

Vignette:

On the last day of school, a fourth grade student stopped to see his next year teacher to tell her that he was looking forward to being in her class. The teacher answered, “I can’t wait to have you in my class! We will have a great year!” Off he went with a smile. In the office file drawer, there was a three-inch thick folder of his behavior problems. Over the summer, the teacher barely scanned it. Most important, the file did not become a checklist of expectations that would preclude any possible progress. On the first day of school, the student arrived early along with his mom with his smile and his plan for changing himself. The arriving class was given a heads up to allow the young man to change. They did. He did. It was a happy year. Past behavior was dissolved by everyone’s willingness to change.

A second key to deflect and diffuse bullying behavior is to create an atmosphere in which a bully finds no victim or partner. Increase your compassion for others. Memorize quotes that lift your thoughts. Sing with joy! Pay attention to the good around you. Be grateful. As Forest Squirrel says in the above mentioned book, ‘Say thank you a lot.” A bully’s anger dissolves in the face of true deep down compassion as Throckmorton, the dragon, discovered.

A third key that counters and obliterates bullying is what a friend mentioned after hearing of this article. “You can’t be bullied if you have self-confidence.” The idea resonated. When you know who you are and what you believe, when you know what you love, then you walk tall, speak firmly and clearly and become a confident ‘you’ that simply cannot be bullied. For there is nothing to be bullied!

In essence, to defuse and destroy bullying behavior change your actions, create an atmosphere of kindness, and build your self-confidence. For lack of victim or partner, bullying behaviors will disappear.