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Communication and Conflict Newsletter, Issue #011, - Communication and Conflict at Christmas!
December 16, 2008

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Communication and Conflict at Christmas!
(....or, things to think about if conflict arises or communication breaks down at Christmas.....)

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Hi Everyone,

Welcome to Newsletter no.11 - December 2008

Christmas can often be a fantastic time. An opportunity to meet up with relatives and friends that we haven't seen for some time or simply to do something special for, or with, those in our lives who we interact with on a regular basis whether at home or at work.

Have a HAPPY CHRISTMAS everyone!

Unfortunately it can also be a time when coming together with these people can raise issues that we have not resolved in the past.

Even as adults, of any age, the return to the family environment or the meeting up with particular people who we have known for a long time but rarely see can 'open old wounds' or lead to 'a locking of horns', or 'handbags at dawn'.

So, here are some thoughts from the Communication and Conflict website designed to assist you in approaching these situations in ways that can help to resolve them rather than suppress them,again, or for them to become a(nother!) battle.

We can often respond to conflict as a problem and try to pretend it's not there, to suppress it. 'I'm fine!', 'No, I'm not going to let it get to me!' 'I'm going to bite my tongue' (0uch!) etc.

Quotation Corner:
"If you think you're enlightened go spend a week with your family."

Ram Dass

When we put the lid on that boiling pot there often becomes a build up of pressure that eventually erupts.


It's not an effective way of responding to a conflict as it doesn't resolve it, it merely avoids it. And the resentment, or bitterness, or sadness, depression, despair, whichever emotion rings true when we are involved in a situation like that, can fester, simply lying dormant until the next time.

It's not the nicest of feelings to have at Christmas and awareness of that can then lead to us blaming those we fall out with for 'spoiling our Christmas', 'always having to upset everyone'- by which we mean 'upset me'.

This article is written by Alan Sharland, Director of CAOS Conflict Management, London, UK

Is there a way of having a nicer time at Christmas? Or if we know that our encounter at Christmas is going to lead to a battle, and it does, because it always does, are we involved in treating our conflict like a competition:

'He p***es me off every year but if he says one word out of place this year I'm gonna give him both barrels. I'm fed up with his ....(fill in the blank).... every year. Someone needs to put him in his place!'

That's not a fun way to go through Christmas, a time when we'd like to have a nice relaxing, loving experience with others.

So, my question to you for this Christmas is:

Can you treat your usual experiences as opportunities for learning, connection and insight? For your sake! Not anyone else's.

I'm not proposing you take some kind of 'moral high' ground and pretend you are not annoyed. That's back to conflict suppression again.
The question we need to ask ourselves is whether there is any place we can stand in ourselves where we can look at all that's happening around us without freaking out, where we can be quiet enough to hear our predicament, and where we can begin to find ways of acting that are at least not contributing to further destabilization. - Ram Dass

I mean, for your own sake, for your own peace of mind, can you treat those painful experiences differently this time?

It's not giving in. It's not 'turning the other cheek'. When it starts to happen and you see it happen (and just doing that is a major step in the right direction, most of these things happen before we've realised it), it's asking yourself the following:

'Ok, so I'm getting wound up here, what is it that upsets me?'

  • What would I like to happen instead of what is / has happened?
  • How could I communicate what I'd like to happen to the other person(s)?
  • This may not only be about words......there may be many ways of doing this that fit more with you. But if words are good for you, that's fine too.

  • What can I do to support myself if I don't want to ask for that, or if I do ask and I get rejected?

Wishing you a lovely CHRISTMAS!

I want this to be a pleasurable Christmas for me. I also want it to be a pleasurable Christmas for those around me too but I find it difficult to help that happen when I feel bad/angry/sad/...other...

So what can I do to support myself in this first? When I've found a way to do that, then I can try to make it fun/ loving/pleasant..other... for those around me.

The focus in all of those questions is on you and what you want, and what you can do, in order to make your situation kinder, gentler, more enjoyable, safer.... you put the word you want in there for how you would like to feel.

If you like what you are reading and you think other people would too, please Send this Newsletter to them for their consideration.

The focus is not on another person and how you wish they'd be different/ better/ kinder/ nicer....etc. You can spend all your life wanting someone else to be different, and you might be reminded of it every Christmas.

But perhaps this Christmas can be your chance to look at you and what can help you to be different when faced with the things you normally find so difficult - for your sake, so that you find your Christmas a more pleasant one.

Check through the questions again and try them out whenever you become aware of becoming upset. Or, if it's too late, try them after you've become upset, to help you back towards a focus on you and what you want that will help you to enjoy your time.

Have a Happy Christmas!

It doesn't take two people to end a war, only one, and you're the one.
What a perfect set up!

- Byron Katie from 'Your Inner Awakening' - The Work, Live, A man deals with his son's disrespect for him.

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Besides being the author of the Communication and Conflict website Alan is Director of CAOS Conflict Management Tel. +44 20 3371 7507

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Recommended Books for a New Beginning at Christmas

Who Would You Be Without Your Story: Dialogues with Byron Katie - Katie's latest book and I already love it. I've read about the first 3 dialogues and as ever I am crying and then laughing within minutes.

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment This amazing book will help you towards experiencing 'presence', that time when we are not 'in our heads' but aware of that which is around us without getting caught up in labelling it all and conceptualising it. Just being here, now.

Would you like to create your own income generating website?

Site Build It!

Click here to find out how I went about creating the Communication and Conflict website.

Consultation via Skype.

Would you like:

If you have Skype and would like to arrange a consultation, please go to the Conflict Coaching and Mediator Mentoring page to send me details of what you would like to discuss and proposed times to call me.

Skype to Skype calls are free from anywhere in the world so there will not be any telephone cost, just the fee for the consultation which is a fixed charge per minute.

Some links that you may find interesting...... by Stephanie Goddard - a website very much in line with the thinking of this site. Stressed Out at Work AGAIN? Work Stress Is NOT Caused By -Your Difficult Coworkers - Your Diet - Your Lack of Time...So What Causes Work Stress? Stress is caused by only one thing....the way you think. Stephanie has 2 great books: 101 Ways to Have a Great Day at Work and 101 Ways to Love Your Job is an excellent resource of information relating to mediation. There are articles, links to websites and blogs as well as the possibility of locating mediators in your area. - is a comprehensive guide to information about Self Improvement, Personal Growth and Self Help on the Internet. It is designed to be an organized directory, with articles and references to thousands of other Web Sites on the World Wide Web. is a rich source of information, quotes and support to enable us to find and be true to ourselves.

Oh Wow This Changes Everything is a great site with an enormous number of links to articles about different aspects of effective communication and conflict resolution. Definitely worth a could be there for hours! helps people, like yourself, create change in their life and business. They share fun stress management strategies and personal development articles.

New This site is sooo full of great links and resources relating to Co-operative Communication skills - I would very much recommend it.

Learning Supersite is a fascinating site dedicated to the development of informal learning. "A new approach to learning, the Learning Supersite is a venue that provides personal learning community, but with state-of-the-art Web technologies."

Transforming Conflict is an excellent organisation which works with young people, and adults, in educational settings, promoting restorative approaches to conflict.

Aik Saath This is an amazing and interesting website, quite besides the work of Aik Saath that it promotes. Aik Saath works to promote conflict resolution skills in young people and the development of peace and racial harmony in Slough, UK and its surrounding areas.

Would you like to build your own website?.....this is how I built mine... I Love SBI!

So, how did you like it?

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