I'm sorry Mr. Rogers...
...But, I’m not the guy who knows all of his neighbors. No reason, I guess. I’ve just never been the “howdy neighbor” kinda guy.
Then we got a puppy.
It’s crazy, but there’s a whole living community of dog owners and they ALL know each other. So, recently, reluctantly, I’ve gotten to know my neighbors…
For the sake of anonymity, let me describe them for you.
There’s the always-drunk-wish-I-had-a-dog cat lady who never misses a chance to burb in my general direction. The I-used-to-be-a-rocker-and-can’t-hear-so-I-talk-real-loud lady, who always forgets her poop bags. And finally, the is-there-a-dog-at-the-end-of-my-leash guy, who’s only one toke away from the next great invention.
Neighbors are wonderful things…but, sometimes, neighbors can be a pain in the cul-de-sac. When people live in communities, conflict is inevitable.
Today, I saw two of my aforementioned neighbors arguing over dog poop.
Your dog just pooped on my lawn.
Sorry?!!! Are you going to pick it up?
I forgot my bags—I’ll go get one and be right back.
Are you serious—this is the 3rd time!!!!!
I’ll be right back.
This is RIDICILOUS!!!!
DUDE—stop yelling!! I said I’d be RIGHT back!!
Don’t tell me to stop YELLING! Control YOUR DOG!!
…it went on for about 5 minutes…I’ll spare you the details…but, shockingly, nothing was resolved.
Let me be very clear, CONFLICT IS NOT A BAD THING (neither is dog poop).
But, there are 2 TYPES OF CONFLICT:
1) Productive Conflict
2) Destructive Conflict
Productive Conflict can be a wellspring for solution, for creativity, and for deepening relationships. It can be the fire that burns off the rough edges and makes everything new.
Destructive Conflict can do the reverse. It can tear neighbors apart, destroy families, and start wars.
The good news is that there is ONE PHRASE that will make sure your conflict is PRODUCTIVE.
“Is there anything else you ‘d like to say?”
I call this the Kay Lindahl Adjustment.
If you don’t know Kay, you should. While the Urban Confessional crowd is like savage listeners running wild through the world, Kay is refined, intentional, and a limitless source of wisdom and compassion.
Check out her book, The Sacred Art of Listening, and you’ll know why.
Here’s how it works:
· Allow the person to voice all of their concerns. Be quiet and LISTEN to them. Resist the urge to interrupt—you’re gonna hear some things don’t like. You may even get angry or offended. Stay patient, stay open--you’ll get your chance.
· When they seem to have finished, simply employ the Kay Lindahl Adjustment, and honestly ask them: “Is there anything else you’d like to say?”
· Let them search their heart for the truth they’ve been too scared/nervous/embarrassed to express. If they have more to add, allow them to finish. If not, you get to respectfully respond to them.
This simple phrase allows the other person to feel as if they’ve been heard, and lets them know that you care about THEM more than you care about the CONFLICT. When we listen, conflict can go from Destructive to Productive in a matter of minutes.
…even if your neighbor forgets their poop bag.
Have you forgotten a poop bag, yelled at an employee, or stopped listening in an argument?