You know it does not empower you to feel judged or underappreciated. Perhaps you’ve even learned to speak up, defend yourself, or ask for what you need from some people in your life. Yet you probably still judge yourself harshly, don’t you? You don’t look the way you should. You don’t make enough money. You aren’t a good enough worker, spouse, friend, etc. You should have known better than to _________. Right?
You’ve heard over and over that you can’t change the past, and you know that intellectually, but you can’t stop punishing yourself by thinking about what you should have done differently to be who you want to be and have what you want to have now. Several friends and I call this “shoulding” on yourself, and it only makes a mess.
What can you do instead? Make Choice #2: Acknowledge yourself for taking any action to resolve any conflict. See DIY Conflict Resolution: Seven Choices and Five Actions of a Master.
Don’t wait for your mother, sister, boss, or client to give you what you need. You might wait on that forever, and why wait for something that is readily available elsewhere? If the nearest store doesn’t have the product you want, and the manager isn’t sure it will ever get another shipment of it, do you wait indefinitely and hope it will come in, or do you look elsewhere? How is that working out for you?
We all avoid conflict when we feel we can’t handle it skillfully. I recently bowed out of family discussions about my 88-year-old mother’s post-rehabilitation accommodations after being physically intimidated by my brother-in-law and personally attacked by him and my sisters for not agreeing to put her in a nursing home against her will and without including her in the discussions. When my mother stood by my brother-in-law, despite the hurtful and hostile things he said to me, I chose to set her up with as much protection as I could from afar. I chose self-preservation, without completely abandoning her.
As you can probably tell, this is a fresh wound. I have been heartbroken and nearly devastated, but it was the best action I knew to take under the circumstances. I am avoiding further conflict, based on her most recent expression of what she wants and my security needs. Even if I think she “shouldn’t” choose the appearance of a happy family over happiness in the house she fought so hard to keep, I acknowledge myself for stepping back, continuing to call her, and telling her I still love her (even when she doesn’t say it in return). It’s not perfect, but it’s something, and it is keeping the opportunities open for something better.
Despite all my conflict resolution training and experience, my life is not perfect. Yours won’t be, either. But you can develop skills that have conflicts hurt less and resolve more quickly, effectively, and completely. That is what I want to give you. That is how I try to leave you more empowered than when we met, whether in person, by phone, or online.
Not surprisingly, I have tolerated harmful behavior in my business that mirrors my tolerance of it in my family. The issues we struggle with personally will almost always show up in our professional lives as well. Do you let family members or friends take from you without acknowledging you? There’s a good chance you have clients who do, too. They don’t pay their invoices, or they always have excuses for why they can’t pay, while they flaunt their new car, $800.00 handbag, or live-in nanny, just like the friend you fed for six months because she was “down on her luck”. Maybe you gave her a job or loaned her equipment that she never returned, and you brushed it off as insignificant because you are used to this kind of conduct from people.
That was me. I was used to being disrespected and underappreciated. I hired friends of friends who stole from me, and I tolerated clients who were more than six months behind in their payments—until I was scrambling to make payroll for underperforming employees and to take a small draw for myself, so I had food and shelter.
Last month, we focused on forgiving ourselves for having conflicts. We all have them, but not all of us take mindful actions to resolve them. We react and hope everything will somehow work out. Sometimes it does, but I prefer to think like Abraham Lincoln, when he said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” So, this month, we’re going to start creating our futures by acknowledging ourselves for the actions we take to resolve any conflicts. For the next three weeks, I will acknowledge myself for:
- Firing clients not aligned with The Law Studio vision, mission, or values
- Choosing better clients to partner with and empower
- Simplifying our business offerings and practices
I encourage you to choose three (or more) actions to acknowledge yourself for and to follow along. You will see the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process in action and learn to incorporate it into your daily responses to life’s challenges, so you don’t physically or figuratively punch someone in the face! You will instead have opportunities to play with the wide range of possibilities for maintaining, if not improving, the relationships you want or need, and you’ll be better able to recognize when distance is the best way to transform a relationship.
Are you ready to stop looking outside yourself for what you want? Make a list of your self-acknowledgments, talk it over with your most trusted advisor(s) or friend(s), and check back in about a week to see how I worked through firing clients and created new opportunities to work with ones I love.
Nance L. Schick, Esq. is a New York City attorney and mediator who focuses on keeping people out of court and building their conflict resolution skills, especially in business and employment disputes. Her holistic, integrative approach to conflict resolution draws from her experience as a crime victim, human resources supervisor, minor league sports agent, and United Nations representative. She is a 2001 graduate of the State University of New York Buffalo Law School trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation (ICERM). She is also creator of the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process, author of DIY Conflict Resolution: Seven Choices and Five Actions of a Master, and an award-winning entrepreneur, who has been acknowledged by Super Lawyers (ADR, 2018), the New York Economic Development Corporation/B-Labs (Finalist, Best for NYC 2015 & 2016), U.S. Chamber of Commerce (2015 Blue Ribbon Small Business), Enterprising Women Magazine (Honorable Mention, 2014 Woman of the Year awards), and Urban Rebound NY/Count Me In (Finalist, 2013 Pitch Competition).