When it comes to communication in the context of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR); whether by mediation or otherwise, there is a difference between good communication and bad communication. In a legal dispute, one party’s belief that they are right can lead to a vicious cycle of continued dispute, causing anger and frustration instead of the desired resolution. In this way, one’s “truth” can become a barrier to effective communication.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
David D. Burns, M.D. addressed attitudes that can hinder communication. [ David D. Burns, M.D., The Feeling Good Handbook, Plume, 1989.] When engaging in Alternative Dispute Resolution, assessing whether you possess these attitudes and working to overcome them can greatly assist the process and greatly aide in faster, more effective resolution. If you are contemplating and/or are currently engaged in ADR, a quick check of your triggers may be helpful.
1. Fear of Conflict- One may be triggered with a fear of angry feelings or conflict with others. This may stem from a belief that you shouldn’t be argumentative, or that you will hurt anther person’s feelings. Avoidance of conflict will not facilitate resolution.
2. A Need for Others to See you as Perfect- One may be triggered by a fear of being exposed as weak or vulnerable; they fear being perceived as irrational or not in control if they express negative feelings, such as anger.
3. People Pleaser- A fear of disapproval may cause one to push down negative feelings and continue in a situation that makes them unhappy. People pleasers sometimes fear that they won’t be liked should their feelings be revealed.
4. Passive Aggression- One may keep anger and hurt inside and then try to make those who hurt and anger them feel guilty, without an explanation or understanding of what is truly wrong.
5. Hopeless surrender- One may think that the situation is hopeless, so why bother trying. This can become a self- fulfilling prophecy if not kept in check.
6. Low Self- Worth- One may believe they are not worthy of asking for what they want or need, or of expressing how they feel.
7. Entitlement-One may inappropriately believe that they are entitled to express any of their thoughts and feelings, in any circumstance, in any manner they see fit.
8. Mental Telepathy- One may believe that others should just know how they feel or what they desire without communicating. This causes resentment when needs are not considered or met.
9. Silent Sufferer- One may be triggered by fear of letting others know that they have become angry or upset. Prideful emotions cause one person to feel like a martyr without the right to be heard.
10. The Fixer- One may approach conflict by trying to solve the problem immediately rather than sharing feelings and listening. This “instant-solution” approach can cause the other party to feel devalued and rejected; listening to one another is accordingly important even when one party believes they already have the solution.
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Awareness of the above-itemized triggers should hopefully help parties interested in resolving disputes determine what emotional issues may be impacting their ability to “find their truth” before they begin actively listening to the “other parties truth” by employing the listening skills necessary to address same. One must accordingly address their own emotional issues to identify “their truth”, in addition to utilizing “listening skills” to determine “the truth of the other” before any meaningful, lasting and comprehensive resolution can be reached. Theses “listening skills” will be the subject of our next blog.