Janelle's Story: Group Conflict
Though the thought of travelling to Ghana was intimidating, Janelle was comforted by the knowledge that she would be part of a team on her project. But conflicts in the group soon let to both tensions in their living situation and problems working on their project. Janelle took the lead in meeting with the members individually and instituting a regular group "check-in" meeting. While not a cure-all, it alleviated many of the tensions and enabled the group to have a productive and positive experience.
The skill of assertiveness is required for effective interpersonal relationships. It focuses on confidence in communicating personal needs and wants, while respecting needs and wants of others.
Assertiveness fosters awareness, connection, regulation and flexibility. It is important not only to be aware of our needs, but to be able to effectively communicate these needs while strengthening a relationship.
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Know what the specific problem is that you want to change. Know the specific outcomes you desire; do you want more or less of a behavior or action from others, and how do you feel when you do not get this.
Prepare to listen, really listen, mindfully to other person's point of view. If we are not listening to them, they won't be able to listen to us and old, ineffective communication patterns dominate the conversation.
Use concrete and specific requests, and use "I" statements to get your point across without provoking defensiveness. Assertiveness may seem easy; but stress, emotional upset and isolation can keep us from staying calm and in the moment.
You may want to practice what you will say before trying it out… for example "I feel hurt when you do not eat the meals I have prepared for our group, I would like to spend more time eating together, how do you feel about this?"
Reflection focuses on taking the big picture into account. To be reflective is to have a balanced perspective of the past and present, as well as thinking about opportunities for future change.
Reflection fosters optimism, flexibility and connectedness. Reflection allows for balanced thinking and the possibility to problem solve.
Holding in mind the thoughts and feelings that you may be struggling with; reflect upon both the positive and negative aspects of an event as well as the impact of your internal experiences of this event to help you gain perspective. What can learn from this experience?
- What is in my control and what is not?
- Is it helpful for me to be thinking the thoughts I am thinking?
- Is there any other way to see this situation?
- What would I say to friend in the same position?
What am I wanting to change? What are all my possible options? Is this a current problem, or a potential problem?
Can I implement any of these strategies and evaluate their effectiveness?
Values are guiding principles that each person has to choose for themselves. Values-based action requires an awareness of personal values as well as an intention to commit to those values, despite difficulties.
Values-based action fosters flexibility, awareness, regulation, connection and optimism. Instead of reacting to our own thoughts and feelings; it can be used with the other skills to help us respond in a way that is in accordance with our values.
When we take time to reflect, understand and defuse from distressing experience; we realize that we have a choice to how we can respond in accordance with our values. Your values are not goals to be attained, but guiding principles that help us ground our present experiences in chosen behaviors. It requires reflection and mindfulness.
What do want this experience to stand for, what do you want to stand for? How are my emotions telling me to react, what are my gut instincts? What's getting in the way?
Am I willing to experience discomfort in service of my values? Can I defuse from these enough to choose to react in a values consistent way? How does I choose this way of responding? How can this choice change the trajectory?