While reviewing the book by Orrin Woodward titled Resolved: 13 Resolutions for LIFE, I was reminded of the need for quality conflict resolution practices with people. One of my favorite things about the LIFE Business is that it provides a community to practice and measure how well you are applying the skills that you havwlearned.
Over the last 9 years, I have had many opportunities to practice these principles. Sadly, not always getting them right; however, always trying to learn from the mistakes. This is one of the most important areas to master because, unlike personal failures and mistakes, this area affects the lives of those around you as well. Making a mistake or violating a principle here cost you relationships. This is painful because relationships are the greatest gifts in a person life. I have witnessed people and companies pulled into lawsuits because the conflict wasn’t resolved using these principles from one or both parties.
The communities in LIFE that thrive are the ones who study and apply the 5 steps to conflict resolution. So why do so many fail in this area, because of the deadly poison of relationships discussed in Resolved; Communication Triangulation.
I have attached the section of Orrin’s book that discusses this in detail. Please read the following text and think through your relationships in LIFE. Can you be accused of being in the triangle?
When dealing with conflict, don’t fall victim to communication triangulation, a vile process where people attempt to draw others into gossip from their unresolved conflict. As Joseph Stowell writes, “The ‘juicy morsels’ stay with us, permanently staining our perceptions of and appreciation for those about whom we are hearing. The vicious chain of gossip continues until it finally comes up against someone willing to stop spreading information about feuding factions and start praying. Only then will the fire die down.” Why would anyone willingly choose to help assassinate one of his friends by listening to gossip? Unless a person is asking another to help mediate a resolution, in which the mediator hears both sides of the story, the person is simply gossiping, no matter what the gossiper’s claimed intentions. Instead of falling victim to this sickness, follow the process described by Kibbie Ruth and Karen McClintock, of Alban.org, keeping the focus on resolving conflict, not furthering gossiping and taking sides:
While people often suggest that venting is good for the soul, it is actually not very productive. Venting to someone about a third person is simply an avoidance technique that creates what is known in counseling theory as a relationship triangle, or triangulation. Triangulation is talking about feelings, opinions, or personal issues regarding some person or group with a third party instead of with the person or group actually concerned. Relationship triangles usually involve three people who each take one of three roles: victim, persecutor, and rescuer. Once in a triangle, people change places among its three points. The only way to stop the triangulation is for each person to communicate his or her feelings, concerns, or opinions directly to the other. Of course, the best communication strategy is to avoid being recruited into a triangle in the first place. But so often well-intentioned faith leaders and congregants listen to another person’s concerns, feelings, or opinions, then realize they inadvertently let themselves be co-opted into involvement, sometimes even taking sides. Once in a triangle, escape may take some courage and clarity but is possible. The triangulated person can redirect the other person straight to the appropriate individual or committee—the one actually involved in the personal issues or the one that can address the concern or mend the relationship. A three-way conversation sometimes helps, but only if the third party facilitates without taking sides or having an agenda, without speaking for one of the other parties, and without adding to the emotional drama.
The gossiper quickly learns that communication triangulation isn’t condoned in the community, and that if the gossiper refuses to go directly to the person he has gossiped about then he will be called out by being quoted. This does two key things. First, it let’s everyone know that one isn’t a gossiper. Second, by protecting the party not present, one builds trust throughout the organization, as others know that one will do the same for them when needed. Through these actions a person displays his scorn for gossipers, refusing to be drawn in to a foolish losing triangulation game. Only through addressing conflict directly does the merry-go-round of gossip and lies end. Organizations cannot thrive in a negative environment, therefore, the gossiping garbage must be cleaned out of, not cultivated within, one’s community.