Updated: 25th July 2020
How are you going? It’s been an incredibly tough year and there is more to come so we all need to think about how we can make ourselves more resilient, more resource and more able to cope with the challenges we face.
One of the things that makes resilience more difficult is abuse. When we are abused by other people it eats away at us. When we abuse ourselves the damage is even faster. Interact Support is on a mission to help the people of Australia to reduce and resolve conflict so that you can live in peace and be treated respectfully rather than be abused.
How we help
We help people to resolve issues and problems before they escalate or become entrenched.
Below is a conflict escalation model which explains the stages of conflict and some of the ways that you can resolve issues. In alternative dispute resolution (ADR) such as in mediation, we help you to talk and work towards an acceptable resolution. If you don’t you risk your interpersonal relationship deteriorating and the problems escalating into a protracted dispute or conflict with potentially an escalation into abuse, violence and even war.
If you have any type of relationship has become strained we have people available to help you to work towards a peaceful resolution.
The Conflict Volcano
Does this diagram make sense to you? Have you seen a difference escalate into conflict in the past? It goes like this.
Things go OK for a while. Especially after a big blow up. Everyone is minding their behaviour to try to prevent a repeat of the frightening behaviour associated with conflict.
But then inevitably something that you disagree about comes up.
It might be about cleaning the house, it might be about money, sex, sharing of workload or any of a million things that may intrude on your family from outside. Or it might be in the workplace, or with your neigbour who does something annoying or someone in your club or association.
Differences of opinion happen – that is inevitable. How you handle those differences will decide whether the difference escalates into a disagreement or whether you reach some form of acceptance and peace returns.
Sometimes people put up with it, to keep the peace.
Keeping the peace by not saying anything or dealing with problems isn’t a great long term solution to differences. It’s much better to speak about it and reach a resolution. Definitely pick your time and place but putting your own needs aside to “keep the peace” isn’t a successful long term strategy for most people.
If you believe that others in your life (even the kids) have a right to have different beliefs and values, you might find that you can easily discuss the issues and negotiate a resolution when disagreements arise. As a mediator, I have seen many, many times how understanding where the other person is coming from and what they are trying to achieve in their behaviour can result in an acceptable way forward.
But that is often that is hard to do when you think that you are right and they are wrong. Even harder if their behaviour has made you upset. Perhaps embarrassed you or made you feel unappreciated. Sometimes when the disagreements are about something that is really important to you, or them, it isn’t easy to reach an agreement about the best way forward. This can lead to a standoff which will quickly become a problem that may take a bit of work to resolve.
You resolve disagreements by working on the problem, not by attacking the person. When you attach the person that is abuse. Calling names, doing things to “get back at them” or to punish them for not agreeing with you are all harmful and counterproductive. If you want a happy and peaceful life don’t do things that hurt other people! Being abusive is bad for others but it is also really bad for you. Our Am I being emotionally abusive article might give you some insights into your behaviour.
Being abusive might make you feel powerful but it won’t help you to resolve your issues in the long run. What helps is discussing points of view, understanding why they think differently to you, considering options for a workable solution you might find that there are new opportunities to de-escalate and avoid the situation getting any worse.
Problems in your relationship or your contracts.
Up to now I’ve mainly been talking about interpersonal relationships but the same applies to contractural relationships. Due to COVID-19 we have a situation where many, many people are finding that they can’t comply with agreements that they have made in the past.
For some, it is the moral contracts and agreements they have made with other people and for others, it is the legal contracts that you have made with your landlord, customer or supplier.
In some of these relationships there is a power imbalance where there are legal rights to force your view but in the pandemic world where we live in the reality is that if someone can’t do something due to their financial situation they simply can’t do it. The contract you signed last year may be simply unenforceable right now due to the moratorium on evictions but at some point it will be able to be enforced.
But using force is going to mean an end to the relationship, vacant properties in what is likely to be a depression and potentially zero income rather than less than you expected. Your tenant didn’t expect their income to reduce by whatever has happened to them as well. So why not talk about the situation like two reasonable human beings and see what can be salvaged?
There are a lot of advantages to listening to different points of view rather than trying to impose your view without even listening to others point of view. If you don’t take the time to understand the different perspectives they quickly escalate from a problem into a dispute where you lock yourself into a position that you feel you will lose face if you back down.
“I’m your father / mother and what I say goes!”
“If you want to live in this house, you follow my rules or you can get out!”
“You do what I say or else …. followed by a threat.”
“You stupid ……… “
“You pay me or I’ll change the locks.”
When you try to control other people through emotional and psychological manipulation you may have a belief about your rights over other people so deeply entrenched in your belief system that you don’t even realise that your behaviour is abusive and controlling. In a family situation, we call that Family Violence. What is family violence?