Threading the needle can mean skillfully navigating your ways through a difficult conflict. Sometimes, I have a little trouble resolving conflict in a way that feels "right" for both parties. Maybe you do, too. So I was excited to have this opportunity to learn more about the art of skillful conflict resolution.
I do know that resolving any kind of conflict becomes more difficult when one party wants to avoid the problem. Frogs, and humans, who fear conflict, or upsetting the apple cart, stifle their own wants and needs...and that's a tough way to live. My research shows that although navigating difficult conflicts isn't always a "piece of cake" it can be made much easier on everyone if there is a plan in place. When you know you need to have a tough conversation with someone, do a little homework first.
1. Plan ahead. Think about what will be the best time of day to have the talk; is there someone else I'd like to have there...or not be there; what can I do so that the other party will be able to hear and understand me; do I need to prepare for the talk; should I deliver the message in small bites, first, and then have the "meat and potatoes" part at a later time; and if I'm pretty sure I know what the other frog (person) will say, is there a way that I can meet their needs, as well as my own?
2. Be curious. Another key to successful conflict resolution is to deflect the attenction/focus away from winning. That means being open to finding a solution that can benefit everyone, even if there must be some give and take from both sides.
3. Empathize. It's good to realize that the other person's behavior probably isn't being done intentionally. Really, most frogs and humans I know just want to be liked by others. They aren't going out of their way to be "evil." It's important to put yourself in their shoes, too. Ask yourself how they might be feeling and thinking. Try to see the situation from the other's perspective.
4. Point out shifting perspectives. It's very difficult to resolve problems if the other party needs to be right...all the time. Perhaps they are threatened by your attempts to settle things peacefully. Igor Stravinsky, the famous composer and pianist, said, "One's belief that one is sincere is not so dangerous as one's conviction that one is right. We all feel that we are right; but we felt the same way twenty years ago and today we know that we weren't always right." This might mean asking the other person how their perspective has shifted over time. This can help them see that they, too, aren't always correct in their thinking.
5. Get to the root of the problem. Ever notice that sometimes, the true issue isn't the problem that's actually being fought over? Oftentimes, that's the case. And you can't solve a problem if you don't know what that problem is. Once you get to the actual root cause of the issue at hand, finding an equitable solution will be much easier.
6. Stay calm - or take a break when needed. When things start getting "too hot in the kitchen" don't be afraid to say, "Let's take a short break and cool down." If both people/frogs go their own way for even 5 or 10 minutes, it gives everyone the opportunity to re-evaluate what's going on. And time to catch their breath. Often, we perceive conflict as a threat and automatically go to our "figh-or-flight" mode. This prevents us from being rational and thinking logially about new and creative ways to solve the issue. Once you're calm, you can return to the talk and tap into that higher "better" version of yourself. You'll be surprised at how much easier workable solutions will come from that place, than they will from a place of fear or anger.
7. And stay away from abusive people. Understand that you can't fix every problem or every person. Sometimes, the other party just has too much work to do on their own before any real and lasting solution can be found. And that's OK.
Thread the Needle Day is a great time to do a little conflict resolution of your own; perhaps with your boss, your spouse, friend, or children. We all have issues that need to be settled and this is the perfect day to start working on all of the things that can cause relationships to spin out-of-control and, eventually, fall apart. This is your opportunity to "nip it in the bud" beore a valued relationship is lost forever.
And, should you actually know a seamstress or tailor, be sure and tell them you appreciate their work today. It is, after all, Thread the Needle Day, whichever way you choose to acknowledge it