Written by Joey Cope
Originally posted on peacebytes.org
“Do you see what I mean?” he asked. The frustration in his eyes was giving way to anger.
“We had this all worked out,” he said. “We had a plan. I agreed to give in to most of her demands. In turn, she agreed to be more supportive around the other employees. After the last mediation, everything went great — until yesterday. I’m met at the front door by my assistant with the news that she was chewing out the workers and bad-mouthing the company. I knew I should have fired her before.”
“Why didn’t you?” I asked. I already knew the reason. It had been the key to the agreement we had reached in this very room just a couple of weeks earlier.
“I don’t know,” he answered slowly. “I guess because she’s really talented, she’s capable of superior work, and . . .” His voice trailed off.
“And because we were friends before things started blowing up,” he finished.
“So what do you want now?” I asked. “What do you want things to look like?”
He sat quietly, looking at his hands gripping the edge of the table. He started to speak, but then cleared his throat instead.
“Mainly,” he said, “I just want to be friends again.”
“Do you know why she started acting differently yesterday?” I probed.
“No, I was so mad that I could barely make the call to you to see if we could get back into mediation,” he answered. “I suppose you’re going to suggest that I ask her?”
In a few moments, the two of them were back at my mediation table and he asked that very question. Reluctant at first, eventually she let go and the words flooded out. A poor personal decision, unwanted consequences, and then a loss of control. Her personal time bomb just happened to detonate when she reached work.
“So, that scene at work wasn’t related to me or the company?” he asked.
She shook her head “no” and looked down.
At that, I saw him pull his chair closer to the table and lean toward her.
“Let’s talk about it,” he said.
In that short exchange, I realized I was seeing the third C, “Community,” in action.
Previously I’ve pointed out that the key to dealing with conflict in almost any setting is a commitment to the Three Cs – Communication, Conversation, and Community.
The first two are essential. Through Communication, information flows, people begin to define their positions, and opportunities slowly emerge. Through Conversation, individuals purposefully seek to understand someone and willingly explore and embrace differences. A great deal of trust is generated and with that trust, people find room — space — to deal with their conflict.
But flowing out of Communication and Conversation is a third force that melds individuals together.
COMMUNITY is the shared moment of love and respect that fuels further communication and conversation.
Community is where we remember why peace and unity is important. Community is where we see opportunity emerge from Communication. Community is where we see trust billow into loyalty and love . . . and the desire to pursue further collaboration and relationship.
Community is the place we find the strength and perseverance to come back for one more conversation.
Without my further intervention, the two parties at my mediation talked. This time, it was about more than the workplace. This time, a heartfelt closeness was experienced between friends. Out of the conversation came new resolve on many levels.
From the Three Cs, flowed peace.
A commitment to Communication, Conversation, and Community always leads to hard work. Yet, faithfully followed, the path of the Three Cs always leads to a working peace.
You can be an integral guide on that path. We hope you’ll join us as we unveil our Better Understanding Project.