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Are you conflict ready?

Cara Martens
Cara Martens Monday March 8, 2010
<? echo $type; ?> Are you conflict ready?

Last week there was conflict, not at church, but my mom’s house. I have a huge, goofy Goldendoodle named Boomer. My mom has a cat named Ephe. The two had never met face to face. But it was freakishly cold for Texas and so Boomer was allowed inside while we visited.

Ephe was perched high above everyone on top of the kitchen cabinets. But soon, a mad, hissing cat came down and got cornered by my half-retriever under a table. The conflict escalated when Ephe clawed Boomer’s nose and the kids screamed. Here’s what Ephe didn’t realize– all Boomer wanted to do was play. His tail was wagging and his body was wriggling in anticipation.

I think there’s a lot we can learn about conflict from this cat and dog situation.
1. Some of us have a tendency to react to change very defensively, even aggressively.
2. It’s helpful to have an outside neutral person giving feedback if you’re feeling conflicted.
3. Compromise is not always the best option. (In this case, let’s say the compromise was—Ephe the cat gets the top half of the house and Boomer the dog gets the bottom. The only problem is Ephe’s food, water and litterbox are all on the floor!)
4. Instead, both parties need to communicate their needs- the bottom line basics. (So Boomer temporarily needs a warm place to stay. Ephe would like her own space, near her “necessities”, until he leaves.)

In case you’re curious- we helped these two out. Ephe got the master bedroom and bathroom (with her food and litter box) while Boomer hung out happily with the kids in the kitchen. I wonder what conflicts you’re facing. Are you responding like a cat or a dog? What do you really need out of the situation to feel like it’s a win?

Cara Martens can’t help but read, write and dream, so becoming the 252 Basics Creative Director and main researcher for all things Orange is a perfect fit. She taught for a decade in schools and led teams in creating experiences for the church. Cara and her husband, Kevin, are schooled daily by her five- and eight-year-olds on how kids learn best.