This is about US

January 2, 2019

I just read that "Toxic" was the Oxford English Dictionary's "Word of the Year" for 2018. The Christian Science Monitor reported recently that words like "love," "kindness," and "patience," are being used less frequently in American life.

I have talked in the past about the need to bring R-E-S-P-E-C-T back to the manner in which we communicate. Given the above facts and some personal observations, this seems to be an escalating crisis.

I closed my Facebook account after I became aware disrespectful comments posted on Facebook had played a role in escalating conflicts in several family disputes I mediated. That was after I had decided to permanently switch off the TV news, given TV pundits seem more intent on pushing forward the negative blame game in their reporting, rather than presenting a possible positive solution to issues facing US.

The solutions to solving the difficulties we as families and a nation face won't come from focusing on social media, watching TV, or listening only to the opinions of a leader who feeds on showing disrespect. The solutions must come from within all of US.

For that to happen we MUST find ways to come together as one American family, talking respectfully through the issues and problems that have torn us apart. Hopefully toxic will then be a word that describes the past - not the present.

Best wishes to all for a kinder New Year

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Opportunity Calls

September 25, 2018

I spent an extended weekend visiting a long time friend in the past month. He and his wife now live in a very remote portion of Maine, having moved from Wyoming where we first met 25 years ago. In the last 25 miles of my drive to their house, I did not pass a single restaurant, gas station, or business of any type. When I arrived 30 minutes before the 6pm cocktail hour, I was immediately brought up to date on the affairs of their day. My friends told me their land line phone (cell phones are only for emergencies), had rung at noon. Their realtor was calling to tell them someone passing through the area wanted to look at their house in an hour. My friends thus needed to get out of the house ASAP along with their four dogs.

I thought about the stress this call might have caused - so I asked my Maine friends how they handled it. They laughed and said they realized after the call they had not been to see their neighbors in a while so they headed off there. The fact the neighbors might not be there (as proved to be the case), was not a concern. The neighbors had a large porch to sit on, and a large yard for the dogs to run on. The neighbors did eventually show up and welcomed them in. The foursome was then able to use the opportunity brought on by the realtor's call to catch up on local and personal news.

Too often we stay focused on the main point of a conversation - "Get Out ASAP" - and we don't take the time to clearly consider all the options available. This can often lead one to a decision that adds more stress to a situation and can lead to conflict. Think about the mental condition I might have found my friends in if they had crammed themselves and their four dogs into their car and just driven around for 90 minutes.

My Maine friends found an opportunity in the "get out ASAP "call they received. They found a way to reconnect - not disconnect. This is something that is key in resolving conflicts that arise in both a family and small business setting. Too often individuals get upset about a sudden situation, lose their ability to focus, and things get worse not better. Not only is nothing resolved but the parties involved become completely disconnected. That's when a neutral party can often reconnect the parties and refocus them on solving the problem.

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Weakness Can Build Strength and Respect

September 2, 2018

When I was hiring staff, I would ask candidates to define their strengths and they would happily rattle off a list. Then I would ask them to list their weaknesses and to provide examples of how they used their strengths to overcome their weaknesses. The happy face would suddenly be gone and the response was slow. We love talking about success and our strengths but we try to avoid thinking about our weaknesses or failures.

John McCain never hid from his weaknesses, which is what made him so strong in the eyes of many Americans. He will also be remembered as someone that always sought compromise as a means to bring people of all ideologies together. He was in some ways the "mediator" of the Senate.

Another interviewing tool I used was to toss out names and ask candidates for the first thing that came to mind. Sometimes I would say Aretha, and usually the response would be R-E-S-P-E-C-T and the candidates would smile thinking they had passed the test. I would then ask them to define respect and cite a personal example-suddenly the smile evaporated. Respect is not easy to define but we all know it when we see it or feel it.

Sadly, one of the leading causes in the various disagreements/legal actions I have mediated, has been a display of disrespect by one party to the other. Ironically, resolving those cases begins by instructing the parties to show respect by simply listening and thinking before responding and without interrupting.

John McCain and Aretha Franklin knew how to overcome weaknesses and use their strengths to bring people together in respectful ways-something we all need to remember and act upon as we mourn their passing.

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Williams Mediation & Management LLC
PO Box 11623
Winston-Salem NC 27116
336-918-3363 | Email