My neighbor Jing walks around the block every night around 7:00 pm. She loves talking with the neighbors and uses a translation app to improve her rudimentary English. It’s a slow process, but I enjoy chatting with her and contributing to her fluency.
Today, I only have time for some simple greetings. It turns out her English is worse than I thought. She looks at me in bewilderment when I tell her, “Nice to see you.” She doesn’t answer my question, “How are you?” And when I say, “See you later,” she waves at me in confusion.
As I’m biking off, I realize that I wasn’t saying any of these things. Instead, I said, “Goed om je te zien.”, “Hoe gaat die met jou?”, and “Tot ziens!”
Without realizing it, I was speaking Dutch. Given that I had just come back from two weeks of taking care of my parents 24/7, with my sleep deficit and jetlag, it’s not surprising that my brain is foggy and doesn’t realize it’s back in the States.
Had I paused and checked if she understood me, I would have known that what I wanted to say was not what she was hearing.
Fortunately, our connection is positive enough that my blunder doesn’t have much of a negative impact.
But when relationships are under stress, misunderstandings aren’t brushed off lightly. Every interaction gets filtered through the lens of emotional baggage and enemy images, distorting confusion into malicious intent.
You don’t hear what the other person is saying as a tragic expression of unmet needs. You hear it as blame, defensiveness, criticism, contempt. Left to your own devices, you spiral down into mistrust.
Mediators have known this for a long time and have designed processes to help people resolve their conflicts in constructive ways. A mediator’s calming presence and firm leadership reduce the risk that conflicts turn into a screaming match.
As a credentialed mediator with the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association, I know the process and have improved it with the insights of Nonviolent Communication and Thich Nhat Hanh.
The result is a facilitated dialogue that nurtures mutual respect, dignity, and emotional safety and supports participants to find solutions that meet as many needs as possible.
As Catherine said:
“Working with you was pivotal for me. It helped me get over the enormous hurdle of really feeling heard and seen by my ex-husband, and helped me to finally feel forgiveness in my heart. I’m happy to report that my relationship with him is in a really good space, and also that our daughter is doing very well.
I will forever treasure you and the gift you gave me, of a framework for knowing and naming needs and feelings, and for making all the difference in what many people thought was an impossible situation for me. For that, I am profoundly grateful.”
Contact me if you want to know how my services can help you transform your conflict into collaboration.