Blogs are an interesting thing. They are like a diary, but they are public. I know some people read mine all the time, others pop in periodically, and there is a whole group of readers that I have no idea who they are or that they are reading. It’s okay, but I think there is a level of responsibility attached to that, too.
For example: last week I posted about a situation at school that caused me a great deal of angst and upset. I was quite vague about the who and the what and where and so forth because I am not about slandering someone or someplace. I feel I have a right to express my feelings and tell a story, but not at the detriment to someone else. I want to say here publicly that is why I didn’t use names, etc. Yes, I was upset, but it still wasn’t about demonizing someone else.
People close to the situation may have been able to put two and two together, but other people would not be able to, and that was kind of the point.
But now, I want to follow up on that story. Because I think it is a great example of why I really love the art of communication. It is a great example of what people who know how to communicate can accomplish.
I said last week that I couldn’t believe my situation went so poorly because both parties involved are communication people. And at the time, that was true. But here is the interesting thing about communication: it doesn’t always work the first time, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work at all.
The other party and I both had the opportunity to gain some space from the other. We both had the opportunity to really evaluate the situation, *both* of our perspectives, speak to mentors who were able to provide some additional clarity and hope for the situation and then sit down together to try again to communicate.
The first part of our conversation was facilitated by a third party whose job was to really just make sure we were both slowing down the communication, listening, and really hearing what the other person was saying. The facilitator helped guide the conversation and made sure that we stayed on track and that neither person was feeling attacked or slighted. This part of the conversation went quite well, but we had a deadline as the facilitator had another appointment. At the end of that time I didn’t feel that the situation was fully resolved.
Here’s where it gets good, though!
The other party asked if I would like to continue the conversation right then just the two of us.
Now, had we not made fairly significant progress with the facilitator I would have said no. Or, quite honestly, if I felt like I was a less adept communicator, I would have said no. However, I felt that not only did the first part of our conversation go pretty decently, but also that I was a) no longer super angry – so wouldn’t be inclined to fall back into that trap and b) that I could hold my own in a conversation with the other party skill level wise.
We ended up talking for another hour. It was *very* valuable. There was a great deal of clarification, perception explanation, motivation explanation and clarifying of roles and goals. Part of the conversation included enough information from the other party that I could comfortably remove the feeling I was harboring of having been personally attacked. That was key! I think without that piece the situation could not have resolved as fully as I feel it was (for me).
We each reiterated our level of respect for the other, the others rights and positions, and what our motivations were. We each were able to accept our own role in the breakdown of earlier communication (it takes two to tango! There were no “innocent” parties in this) and share some back history with the other about the baggage our lives have created that we carry with us each day; that baggage (we all have it!) creates who we are and much of how we perceive things. This piece was also very important to create understanding between us.
Our conversation ended on a very positive note. I felt that authentic understanding had been reached. I also felt appreciative of both the facilitators willingness to help and the other parties willingness to communicate openly and honestly.
We are both in a much better frame of mind toward the other and I think we are both genuinely relieved to have the tension removed from our relationship dynamic.
THIS is why I love the art of communication. We went from a place of anger, hurt and frustration to a place of understanding and willingness to work together. I would even say we created a level of respect that was not there before, and perhaps a kernel of friendship, in as much as could happen in that time frame and situation. At least, that is my perspective.
So, to the other party I say I apologize for my role. I say thank you for your apology and your willingness to try again. I was not optimistic when we first met, but am thankful that each of us were willing and open to trying again.
In life, in all relationships, communication is the key. That is my belief and I am so happy to be a communication student and be able to (hopefully) one day share those skills and knowledge with others.