I’ve been absent from my blog for these last couple of weeks because I’ve been involved in a complicated situation that’s been taking a huge amount of emotional energy.
There have been two other parties involved, and it seemed like whatever we did, at least one of the three parties would be upset at the result. And one particular party seemed determined to be sure if he didn’t get what he wanted, he would make sure the other two would be dragged through a lot of unpleasantness. I couldn’t see any possibility that would end up being win-win for everyone involved.
I’ve been having a lot of negative thoughts about this party and as much as I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, it didn’t extend to being willing to stand in his shoes and validate to myself why he felt he should have things go his way. In my own mind, I was dismissing him as selfish and manipulative. When I would give a pretense to myself of looking at things from his view, I would think, “I see why he thinks this but…. he’s totally wrong and self-centered and irresponsible and why can’t he be reasonable.” At first I didn’t think he was a bad person but if you saw the way things you were going, you would excuse me for mentally going down that road.
Well, I took a huge step back and mentally went back to the beginning to start over. This was really hard for me because at this point, him not getting what he wanted was just as important to me as me getting what I wanted. I wanted to do whatever I had to do to get out of this situation and never hear his name again. But it was clear he was going to be sure that if he couldn’t win, no one could win.
Mentally starting over helped me feel compassion and understanding for him, and I was able to see he was lashing out because of his fear of losing something important to him. From that position, I approached the other person and said, “Let’s start over. It seems to me you feel like you want to have this outcome, and I’m happy for you to have that if you can make sure that I also have what I need from this situation” (which initially he said wasn’t possible). The third party had agreed that they wouldn’t mind if I reopened the conversation with the other party, and they would be fine with whatever we worked out between us.
Amazingly, it looks as if it’s going to be possible for all three of us to come out ahead in this interaction. Right now we’re at the discussion stage and it will take another week to hammer out all the specifics, but it’s incredibly encouraging and rejuvenating to be able to even consider an ending like this.
While dealing with this, I’ve continually been thinking about win-win, and really debating if given the cultural and personality differences we were facing if in this situation it might be impossible to use these principles. I’m amazed what can happen when you put aside your ego and are willing to honestly step into someone else’s shoes and really understand them.
It’s been a huge energy shift and finally I feel the head space to write again!