Nourish relationships and self-care

Empathy works. It always does.

Mediating conflict with empathy, 1

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Image courtesy to Creative CommonsWe’re in Hoppin House, Maya, Kiran, Georgia and I. We have a blast. We just played in the foam pit, and now I’m taking a break. I sit at the table, enjoying my tea, when Maya comes up to me. Her face is red, she seems agitated. “Elly, this kid (pointing at a boy on a slide) just told me ‘fuck off’, and you have to do something about it. You have to talk to the mom (pointing at a group of adults a table away). He has to apologize… I’m not kidding, he said that, really!” Georgia fiercely shakes her head. “I heard him say that too!”

I see how upset she is, and how important it is for her to receive respect. I want to honor her feelings and needs. And I am not looking forward to walk up to this table with six adults “Hey, your kid said “f… off”, and he needs to apologize.” Some of them are broad-shouldered and tattooed, and I don’t know what their communication style is. I’m not sure if my needs for safety and acceptance are gonna be met.

“Maya, I see how upset you are and I get that you want to be able to play in a way that brings respect and safety. I want that for you too. I’m gonna sit for five minutes and think about how I can talk to the parents, so that we create friendship, instead of more conflict. You can continue to play in the meantime.” Maya seems okay with that, and runs off.

I breath in and out. I don’t want to talk with the parents at all. I don’t like conflict, and I rather walk away from it. Especially when I am by myself, and they are with six.

Yet, at the same time I want to support Maya’s needs for respect and safety. I also want to show her that she matters enough to take action and overcome my fear of conflict. Even if that feels uncomfortable. And I want to figure out a way that supports the needs of the parents and the kid, maybe for respect, safety, and acceptance, just like us.

(This post is a little experiment: I split it up in two parts: one today, and the other tomorrow. Read more tomorrow!)

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Want help to address conflict in a way that creates connection? Contact me 512-589-0482. I would be honored to work with you on that.

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping professionals schedule time for relationships and self-care. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

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