A walk in the park
I've studied about conflict and resolving it, and still I dread and avoid it.
The other morning, Mr Bones (the Shi Tzu) and I were taking our usual stroll through the Botanical Gardens.
An SUV came whizzing up behind and brushed past, barely missing me. I jumped. It then stopped in the middle of the road, chatting to a vehicle headed in the opposite direction. I walked around them and carried on, mindful now to keep in to the curb. The SUV tore on and as it flew past again, I motioned to slow down. Round the corner, I saw the car parked and the driver getting out.
Should I have just left it? Maybe.
But I felt the need to share that I'd been rattled. I wanted to “offer some constructive feedback”.
“I really didn't hear you coming,” I said, genuinely pretty nicely (perhaps with a hint of passive-aggression). “You could have just honked and I'd have gotten out the way.”
“You shouldn't have been in the middle of the f***ing road!” she launched in. “This is a through-way for traffic — you don't own the road!”
Uh-oh, usually my cue to run away.
I tried to keep my voice calm. “No need to shout, all I'm saying is that I didn't hear you.”
“Well you shouldn't have f-ing well been there! Stay to the side of the road. You're not taking your responsibility in this,” she spat back.
My body pulsating with disappointment, frustration and feeling unjustly victimised, “I'm sorry, it was an oversight …” I started to say as I turned to walk away. I heard her cursing and muttering under her breath.
“This isn't what I wanted”, I thought. Arguing didn't solve anything. “It doesn't have to be this way”. Although my legs were literally quaking with fear, I turned back to face her.
“Don't carry this into your day,” I said.
“What?!” She glared back.
“I just mean, don't let this anger ruin your whole morning. I'm sure you don't need that.”
There was a pause. I thought for a moment, I should have run when I could.
Then the most amazing thing happened.
It was like everything shifted, someone had peeled a heavy burden from her. Her shoulders dropped. “You too,” she said, relaxing into a smile. I saw, for the first time, the person standing in front of me — a pretty cool-looking gal who I'd probably want to be friends with, who was no doubt in a hurry, stressed out, thoughts elsewhere, just annoyed by yet another trying situation.
It could have just as easily been me. As full-pelt holiday-mode sets in, can we slow down to recognise that heavy sack each is lugging might not just be presents?
Keep in mind what it is we truly want to get out of our interactions in this season of peace and goodwill to all.
Julia Pitt is a trained Success Coach and certified NLP practitioner on the team at Benedict Associates. For further information contact Julia on (441) 705-7488, www.juliapittcoaching.com.