Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

Usually, I would say that ‘undermined’ is a quasi-feeling. A feeling mixed in with a thought: someone is doing something that I interpret as undermining. If my clients tell me they feel undermined, I ask them how they feel when they have that thought. Maybe sad? Scared? Angry? And what’s the need underneath that thought? Maybe respect, support, acceptance?

Today’s situation is an exception to the rule. I don’t think I am undermined, I don’t feel I am undermined, I KNOW I am undermined. It is a fact, an observation. If you were a fly on the wall registering everything that was said and done, your summary of what you observed would be ‘yep, hum, undermining’. Everyone else in the room would confirm that too, by the way. I don’t want to be undermined, certainly not by a colleague in the class I facilitate.

So, it’s time to address this with him. I am crystal clear about it. I am right, and he is wrong. Even better yet, I am the victim, and he is the perpetrator. Well, even better than that: I am innocent and pure, he is vile and mean.

I feel so good with my level of self-righteousness. It is a great start for an open conversation, where he will acknowledge how much he wronged me and where we will both agree that our problems are his fault.

I do hear a voice in my head reminding me of my commitment to loving-speech and deep listening, of my dedication to include all needs. Well. I always listen to that voice, and today is not the time.

Today is an exception. Today is an urgent matter of proofing myself right. Today I am ready to tell the TRUTH. I am ready to receive hundreds of apologies, regrets and amendments and all the other yummy stuff life is made of.

I start off well, in my usual accusatory way. But the reminder of my commitment gets too loud. It is as if Thich Nhat Hanh stands next to me. Firm and kind: “There is no pride in love”.

I can’t help it, but all these years of Nonviolent Communication training and mindfulness practice are finally catching up with me. I have to listen and include his needs. I have to be honest and accept my failures on the path of loving-kindness.

Instead of going on a rant, I realize I only want connection based on understanding. I want to open my heart to his feelings and needs. I want to lean into this uncomfortable place of vulnerability and ask what he wants.

We talk for more than three hours. We are able to hold all needs. And we find solutions that work for everyone.

The next class was a delightful experience of collaboration, respect and support. Thank you, dear friend, for walking the path of compassionate communication with me.

You want help to stay committed to your practice, even when you’re triggered? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

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