Friday, March 13, 2009

"Curiouser and curiouser!" cried Alice

Today I participated in the first half of a two-day workshop called Essential Communication Skills in Conflict, which was designed by the Justice Institute of British Columbia and delivered at Vancouver Island University here in Nanaimo.

Our instructor encouraged us to choose an anchor word that we would say to ourselves when our emotional buttons were pushed and we felt ourselves getting angry. She said her own anchor was, "Be curious." Although she said we were free to choose different anchors for ourselves, I actually liked hers and decided to stick with it. Approaching a situation with an enquiring mind helps us to avoid being judgemental.

Earlier in the week, I had confronted a friend by saying, "I feel hurt because you did such and such." At the time, I felt proud of myself for raising the topic at all, as it had involved overcoming my reluctance to bring up a difficult subject.

Secondly, I thought I was doing well, because I started out by saying, "I feel ......." But the second part of my sentence -- because you did such and such -- turned it into blame.

Fortunately the conversation went well and the issue was cleared up. I attribute that to my friend's excellent communication skills, which turned the conversation in a positive direction.

I'm still glad I raised the issue. Although my delivery wasn't perfect, at least it was better than allowing my resentment to build. But, with the benefit of some conflict resolution coaching behind me, I now would start out by saying, "I wonder if you could tell me more about such and such, because I didn't know what you meant by doing it, and I'm feeling confused."


david mcmahon said...

As someone who was brought up with a respect and love for literature, the phrase ``curioser and curioser'' has been such a huge part of my life.

My photography and my writing, to some extent, are governed by that phrase. I want to see more and share more in each paragraph that I write and each image I shoot.

Judy Roberts said...

David, your bio says you live in Melbourne. I lived there from July 1997 to January 2000, and absolutely LOVED it!

I've never been to India, but I'll bet it's a FASCINATING place.

Had a quick look at your blog, and found it really intriguing. I'll return to it shortly and navigate through some of it at a more leisurely pace.