Do you wish you knew how to master conflict situations?
Maybe you wish conflict was just GONE from your life!
I get that.
AND YET… we know that without confrontation, without conflict… nothing changes.
If we don’t speak up, people believe they are doing the right thing.
And so they keep doing it.
BUT – HOW we speak up really matters.
So as unpleasant as it absolutely is, we need to master DOING conflict.
Here’s a short story for you about how I started a conflict with the intention of influencing for change… and I apologize if I ruffle feathers with it. I know for some it’s not politically correct to say there are two genders right now (here’s an article on how self-absorbed and confused we have become), I’m going to go ahead and say it – God created men and He created women… and we are different. The failure to recognize, understand, and work with those differences and similarities helps to destroy our marriages.
So here we go…
(please forgive the odd type sizes… not sure what’s going on with my blog today!)
Leaving the restaurant after a really beautiful meal and generally excellent experience, I stopped at the welcome stand because the manager and assistant manager (both women) were there.
“I want to thank you for the lovely job you did tonight. My friend has SERIOUS food allergies and we’ve eaten out many times at many places. It can be stressful. You all put food allergies at the top of your attention, had many gluten-free options, and were truly considerate of her physical condition. HOME RUN. Your stopping by the table to reassure her of the kitchen’s concern for her safety was huge. And the food and service was amazing. I was wondering if you were open to a piece of feedback that tainted this experience for me?”
The manager smiled and replied, “Of course! and thank you so much!”
“We just came back from the rest rooms. There are no signs on the doors, and honestly, the little red and green ‘occupied’ signs are a bit reminiscent of a porta-potty or airplane bathroom, which doesn’t fit for the elegance of this restaurant. It took a moment to discern they were unisex. So my friend went into an empty one, and I waited, as all the little signs said ‘occupied.’ When a door opened and a man walked out, I literally thought to myself, ‘umm… no thanks.’ And yes, that makes me sexist, perhaps, but I don’t want to put the seat down, don’t want to touch something potentially peed on. I waited and the next door that opened was a woman, so I went in after her.”
At this point the assistant manager rolls her eyes, interrupts me, and says, “We clean those bathrooms every 30 minutes. They are fine to use at all times.”
I smiled and warmly said, “As a customer, number one, I don’t know that. Number two, you aren’t cleaning it right after a man leaves the bathroom, and it is an ‘ew!’ experience for me, as a woman, to think about putting the seat down, touching a toilet, after I’ve had such a lovely meal. It’s where I’m at. The bathroom itself was super masculine, also, with hard to turn pipe fixtures instead of handles for the water. Anyway, you did such a good job with everything else, I thought you’d like to know how I felt about the bathroom experience.”
She gave me a patronizing look, then stared at her manager, who gave me a business card and had enough savvy to smile and thank me for my feedback.
In a day and age where we are SO conflict avoidant that we’re aligning with mental illness in a “the Emperor has no clothes” kind of way… the ONLY WAY to bring sanity back to our culture is to start conflict.
A side note on this whole gender-phenomenon… just because I think a thing about myself doesn’t make it true. I spent a few years being anorexic in highschool – should I have been given liposuction for the fat only I could see? Do some research – the countries that aligned with “gender affirming care” have backpedaled and have tons of regrets, undoing the so-called “progress” now that they see the suicide rate is NOT impacted by these life-altering surgeries.
Here’s a few articles around that if you are up for the rabbit trail:
- Increasing Caution in Europe around Gender Affirming Care
- Debate about the safety and efficacy of “gender-affirming care” in the USA is only recently emerging
Meanwhile, we’re watching women’s sports be destroyed because wise female athletes are not interested in being injured, and sacred female spaces be gender neutralized and taken over by biological men with mental disorders.
Okay, I don’t even enjoy writing about this stuff, but the stakes are high. Being able to speak up in culture matters as much as being able to speak up in your marriage. HOW we do that also matters…
This post gets us into the nitty gritty of The Connection Steps. Hopefully worth the journey, praying you stick around for this life-changing info as it might seem kind of long today. (I know that sounds arrogant… God is responsible for these changes – I just said YES to the things He revealed, and I have watched Him level-up MANY others AND save marriages in the process, so I can’t not share!)
Here’s how this applies to your marriage…
In the situation above, I spoke with women, so I used affirmation and complaint to communicate.
Had either of them been male, I would have spoken with regards to “provision,” as men are motivated to provide something specific when it is mentioned. They will interpret complaint but may not come back with what the woman actually wants. I would also ask permission to share something negative and cushioned because that is respectful (and keep going in this situation). So if I had been speaking to a man, I would have said the following instead:
“I really enjoyed literally everything about dinner, the service, and the way you care for people with food issues. Seriously the BEST dining experience in the city for people like my friend. You made her feel seen and heard and not a burden. AND can I just mention something that bothered me? I didn’t like the bathroom experience. As a woman, no offense, but I won’t follow a man into what turned out to be a really masculine space, wondering if I am going to have to touch a toilet seat after such a beautiful dining experience. I’d like it if you would please provide women with separate bathrooms so I don’t have to think about something unpleasant after the elegant positive experience I just had. If it’s not too much trouble, I’d also like the faucets to be easier for my arthritic hands to turn and not be masculine pipe valves. I might come back if that occurred.”
That might seem rather small of a change – and if you are a woman reading this, know that your brain is wired to make the abstract connections occur easily. Men are just as intelligent, by the way, but if we want something specific, we need to respectfully spell it out, rather than leave them guessing as to what we want. Our brains are different. Men are naturally more aggressive than women, on average, and so they will more easily get defensive, so while we want to be clear, concise, and direct, we also want to be extra gentle to communicate a lack of aggression on our end.
What’s also true is that in the moment, I wasn’t at all emotional. Not upset at all – it was super easy to have a kind and gentle tone, even when the assistant manager rolled her eyes at me. The reason for that was simply this – I know who I am, believe what is at stake is important, and am not a victim, but view myself as someone who needs to step into leadership in this space. My heart was also in a place of truly wanting to help this restaurant succeed as they had done so very well in an important space.
How did I get there? (cuz that’s not always been true!)
It all started with learning The Connection Steps. We believe that these steps create connection with God, ourselves, and others. They help us master emotions and deepen our awareness of what’s occurring right NOW.
If you want to hang out further, dig into the below. But also know you can find it in our FREE eCourse on Facebook. (register here – scroll to the bottom of the link page) There we help you lay the foundation for being able to change your relationship by being able to handle conflict. And yes, it starts with US! We simply MUST STOP being a victim.
- they are feeling alone, ready to give up, desperate to stop the hurt
- they are wanting a tune-up for their marriage to make it even better
- they have a challenging relationship with someone, maybe a parent, spouse, child, or another relative, coworker, boss, or friend, and are at their wit’s end
- they’ve lost who they are in the business of raising kids, having a career, or volunteering and want to find themselves again
- they want to develop their skills as a mentor or a coach
Maybe you resonate with one of those?
We are going to teach a process we refer to as “The Connection Steps.” I’ll walk you through a several-days-long journal experience to prepare your heart and provide you with useful skills. You’ll be seeing a lot of references to The Connection Steps in our communities – they are fundamental and worth mastering.
The goal of The Connection Steps is to help you first learn to deal with the pain you are experiencing by connecting with yourself and God, then be able to interact differently and connect more deeply with others after SELF management has occurred. If you are suffering, I don’t want you to feel the way you are feeling! That’s such a hard and discouraging place to be.
We can help.
If you have felt like giving up, don’t know what to do, feel completely abandoned by God, or if you are discouraged and aching for connection with that person you married or that child you’re raising; if you are dreaming of hope, know you are deeply understood.
You are not alone.
We’ve been there.
We may not feel exactly how you do or know your specific situation yet, but we do know how devastating those feelings can be. Heartbreaking. Lonely.
And I hate it so much if you are hurting like this. I’m glad you are here – we can help and we can’t wait to get started!
Please note that even when your relationships are in a good spot, you will still benefit from learning The Connection Steps. Part of our goal with The Connection Steps is to help you connect deeply with God while doing them – it’s actually part of the process.
Finally, you can learn how to walk others through them – and in doing so, you will create environments where emotional intimacy can be fostered, love deepened, and loneliness replaced with connection.
I’m going to ask you to trust us with how important it is for you to learn this method. The Connection Steps are literally the KEY to creating everything you want in your life. (with God, hello!) The good relationships, the peace, joy, love… You will find when you interact with the Creator in your places of pain, AND interact with Him in your places of joy – with immense gratitude no matter how you are, you will see how taking your focus OFF of the problem and putting it ONTO creating something new aligns with Scripture and helps you move into what you really want, what God really wants, for your life.
It’s very simple – whatever we pay attention to grows. You may have heard me say that before. But think about the last time someone you love angrily complained to you about a thing you were doing. Think about the negativity that brought up in you, the distance it created between you and the person.
We see this all the time in relationships. People think they can fix something by telling the other person what they did wrong, why it was wrong, etc. Instead, if we show up focused on what we want for them AND us instead, the outcomes are different.
We can tell if we have this within us by whether or not we people please, criticize ourselves or others, or blame ourselves or others.
Second, we need to accept our reality, but show up as who we really are in it. Let me explain this further, as it is a tough concept to grasp. Let’s say we are married to a disconnected spouse. We have let them know how much it bothers us that they work so much, then spend all their time golfing. We have pointed out that they could have spent that time with us. Meanwhile, we enjoy being with our friends and bringing our best selves to those relationships. We show up as who we really are. We are NOT doing this in our marriage.
This needs to change.
We can radically accept our marriage and our spouse for who they are and the way they are, knowing they may never change. We can make a decision to accept them, which takes us out of a victim mentality, and moves us into a place of agency. This then gives us influence.
We are no longer waiting on someone else to change to show up as our best selves. Our second decision is to show up as our best self in the marriage, regardless of our spouse’s reaction to that. If they respond negatively to our positivity, that is their problem, that is within THEM. It has absolutely nothing to do with us.
The Connection Steps help us work through this process in a way where the above identity, one rooted in what God really thinks about us, allows the Him within us to shine forth into this world. We become our true selves.
What we can realize is that we have contributed to the relationships that we have. We have been part of creating them. We can take responsibility for that, own it, and do something different. The Connection Steps will help you tap into the Holy Spirit within you and bring forth the identity you long for.
Then when you interact with your spouse, you are acting like a friend, someone fun, someone s/he enjoys spending time with – and they will want more of that. You’ll also have the ability to set boundaries for your own behaviors and responses in ways that create the positive outcomes you want.
I need to mention that initially, you might not enjoy the work we’re about to do with The Connection Steps, but here’s a quote from one of our recent class members about them:
When I use the Connection Steps I see fewer arguments/fights in my marriage, my self-esteem does not tank as much when I receive a “negative” comment (whether by my spouse, a friend, or stranger), I am more self-aware. The Connection Steps draw me closer to God as I have to step back and listen to the truth. – Leann
Those are powerful words!
Here is more from other recent class members:
The Connection Steps have helped me to stop beating myself up. I’ve started noticing my new inner dialogue sounds like a friend, not an enemy. This has cut down on the personal meltdowns I would experience. – Paula
They have informed my everything: I’ve discovered my triggers, my unmet expectations, my desperate need for Christ, my prayers and prayer time are more directed and meaningful. I feel the Holy Spirit providing His fruit and -if I let Him- He overflows them within me so I can pour out to others in the final Connection Steps. – George
So let’s dive in!! 🙂
Here are The Connection Steps:
2. Normalize those feelings
3. Receive comfort from ourselves & God
4. Listen for a gentle truth from the Lord
5. Take responsibility for our part in the issue
6. Make a Commitment to Act with IntegrityStudies by Dr.’s Neff, Kappen, Karremans, Burk, and Buyukcan-Tetik, and many others show that the above processes increase marital satisfaction, decrease self-criticism, reduce anxiety, increase motivation, and deepen romantic connection. The principals also apply to parent/child connection within families.Let’s get started!
This first step is creating awareness of and entering into an exploration of your feelings on a daily basis.
First, I’m going to ask that you DON’T do something – please resist the temptation to judge yourself or your challenging person. Simply immerse yourself in an awareness of how you are feeling in the moment. Use “I-language” and avoid using the words, “he/she,” or your person’s name. Here’s why – this part of The Connection Steps process helps you be mindful about your own feelings so that you will be able to engage in difficult discussions or with emotional people in a new, more effective way. Over time, this process will help you remain objective.
If you complain or blame, or focus on the other person’s behavior, you will interrupt the process.
That’s probably what you’re already doing (been there, no judgment) and it doesn’t work, right?
So let’s stop that.
As you go through this week, pay attention to your feelings in the same way an observer of a play would watch the stage. Name these feelings (good and bad) using “I-language,” speaking about your internal experience, not about what is going on around you and without judgment of yourself or others. Try to capture as many good and bad feelings as you can this week and explore and elaborate in your journal about the feelings that might be “underneath” the feelings you name. Sometimes we know we feel a certain way, and when we think about it, discover there is a bigger emotion underneath it. Anger, for example, is called the “secondary emotion,” as it always has something underneath it like embarrassment, fear, discouragement, loss, etc.
What about you? What stood out to you today around this topic?
Want company and a FREE live environment to grow in? JOIN US HERE Today! (scroll down to the free group!)
Love to you,