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Our blog about communicating throughout conflict

Why Texting and Guns Don't Mix

It's not often that I start out with a disclaimer, but here it is: This is not an argument for or against gun control. If you choose to comment about that, as always, keep your comments respectful.

Since the advent of texting and instant messaging, there's a lot of what I call, 'micro-communication.' It's so short now people aren't even spelling out words. Just by itself, this abbreviated communication gets us into a lot of trouble.

Conflict happens because of the lack of communication, not the presence of it. And even with the telephone, face-to-face, and email communication, there were gaps in communication.

The challenge with gaps is that our mind fills them in. It fills them in so quickly and subconsciously, in fact, that we aren't even aware that assumptions have been made. And because of that, we don't verify assumptions. Those gaps, filled with unverified assumptions, expand during micro-communication.

The assumptions may be exponential though, in comparison with the increase...

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How Christmas with Family Turns into WWIII

I wonder how many people have referred to family arguments as WWIII. It's about as common as saying something is, "cute as a button."

Now, you and I both know that most buttons are not cute. But in a way, WWIII has been started at the dinner table, especially at holidays. Family is a large part of many people's world, so if you or a person you care about don't get along with another person you care about, I can see that being like a personal world war.

That's pretty easy to create; it's just escalation. One person lobs a conversation starter. That triggers the other person, who reacts in kind. Conversation can't stay the same, though, when energy is put into it. So, eventually someone will take the "high" road, escalating the volume, intensity, speed, etc of the conversation. Boom! Fireworks.

Not only is it easy, it almost seems natural. Instinctive. No malice aforethought required. In fact, most of these wars are started with good intentions.

Conflict often starts when someone is...

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Lessons on Conflict from Natural Disasters

Looking at videos of people dealing with effects of hurricanes and earthquakes, one thing stands out...People going to great lengths to help people and animals. Something about natural disasters sets us up to reach out.

These are urgent situations, so the mind doesn't have time to figure out a plan. Usually what happens, instead, is we get one step at a time. And that's probably best, because sometimes the steps seem to go against logic. But if we're already down that road and in over our head with no better plan, we might as well follow through.

But what would happen if we did that even when there wasn't a massive incident we were already involved in?

Generally, when I commit to something before I have a chance to overthink it, I play a bigger and better game. And that's what we're seeing now in the various events that have hit recently - people jumping in without overthinking, and it's allowing them to do more than they might have imagined. We can do the same during conflict.

We...

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The Danger of Labels

Since the deadly protest rally in Charlottesville, people have been referring to people who have supremacist ideology as "white supremacists" or "neo-nazi's." But labels, those or otherwise, run a dangerous risk of backfiring.

When we label someone, it becomes their identity. The only thing people see, then, is that one characteristic. So, that becomes their only source of power.

That's a problem because it causes them to hold tightly to that. So, the label almost becomes a dare. They dig their heels in, defending all that is.

But it doesn't just affect them; it affects our ability to work with them because we can't see other aspects of them.

If you're thinking, "That's fine. I want nothing to do with them," consider that to the extent we can find common ground on other issues, we stand a chance of affecting this belief of theirs, too, or at least putting it on a back burner.

And by creating a label, there are now only 2 groups: those who are, and those who aren't. But some people who...

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Beware of the Egg

Currently, 12 republican members of the Senate are meeting behind closed doors, drafting their version of the health care bill. This issue affects the public health and U.S. labor and economy massively, yet it doesn't even have the benefit of hearings in the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

Without those hearings, the Senate will have trouble relating to their constituents' needs because they haven't heard them on the issue. Receiving one-way voicemail or email messages, especially on this issue, isn't enough to qualify.

People don't always know what to say or how to say it, and their unique circumstances may require dialog for the senators to understand them. That's especially true on an emotional, complex, and individual issue like health care. And even if the senators were receiving all the information well, it'd still leave the people without any feedback. (They may receive a stock email that doesn't pertain to their message, but that doesn't let them know their...

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