Monday, September 27, 2021

Living well in challenging times....#2 Conflict management


Hello beautiful....

How are things today?

Did you complete the tasks from my last post? Did you find ways to give AND receive? If you didn't, if you're just here to read, then read along. If you did, I hope that there was strength and empowerment in just that little exercise. 

Strength and empowerment. Aren't these just so important in times where we feel we have lost control?

This pandemic thing has just been the craziest of times we've ever lived through, right? I never expected to see the likes of it in my lifetime, nor the lifetimes of my children. I guess I thought that modern medicine kind of had viruses under control. The other stuff was the stuff of Stephen King novels and movie thrillers. How could we have been equipped for what has ultimately transpired? In fact, weren't we all just so comfortable, that we couldn't have been LESS ably equipped???



There we all were, dancing along, flowers in our hair, minding our own business and generally having a whale of a time.....then....not. Just. Like. That.

How does one even deal with that? And this was the whole entire planet. Not just a suburb, or a city, or a country. E.V.E.R.Y.B.O.D.Y. 

It bends my brain even typing it, never mind living through it. And many of us continue to live through it, ongoing. Any wonder we're all a bit twisted and deranged. Really. 

From my side, we were fortunate. We have a spacious house and at that time, three people living in it. Myself, Hubster, and Daughter. But even then, we had our challenges. Hubster and I were both working from home. Daughter was in second year of an intense performing arts degree. We all had our own timetables. There was more than one occasion when I, as the Matriarch, needed to call an intervention.

Our interventions looked something like this:

Rules....

1. Only one person speaks at a time, and you must wait for them to finish before commenting. Interrupting is not allowed.

2. Scoffing, minimizing, or poking fun at each others concerns is also not permitted.

3. No matter how small or innocuous the other persons concerns may be to you, they are big enough to them, to raise them, so they must be acknowledged and a solution negotiated.



Negotiating Solutions....

As each point was raised, solutions were discussed. 

Problem: Many issues revolved around reallocation of household duties, or perceived invasions of personal space. 

Solution: Duties were allocated according to each of our timetables, and everyone promised to be more mindful of allowing privacy according to need. We all also agreed that exercise time, was not at this point assumed to be bonding time, unless one was invited. Some days, we all just needed our head space.

Problem: Some issues were around just getting in each others way 24/7, and as you would all know, there was just no way around that one. 

Solution: We all voiced our frustrations on this point, and agreed to just accept that it was the new normal for now. We also agreed to allow each person exclusive use of areas like the kitchen and the television room at designated times. We could each invite the others at those times if we wanted company, but this was not to be assumed either. 

Problem: One issue was that some people who shall not be named nor shamed, were eating for lunch, what other more responsible people, had out defrosting for dinner. 

Solution: A menu plan was swiftly reinstated to avert this behaviour. I usually had one, but due to the pressures of working from home, had neglected this habit, as I'd imagined it unnecessary.

Problem: One particular family member who shall also not be identified, thought that because the other family members were home, they were 'available'. Available for chats, making coffees, and general interactions. 

Solution: Said family member was simply told in no uncertain terms, that the other two, were not as available as imagined, and to go make their own coffee and find other ways to entertain themselves. Sometimes being blunt IS the only solution.

Challenge: In the midst of all this, one person involved in the conversation had a complete and utter meltdown. A tantrum of toddler proportions. The other two, merely looked on in interested fascination, and let them carry on for a while, as one would with a toddler. When they'd finished, they were told in the same blunt terms that whilst others were sympathetic to their angst, that sort of outburst would not be tolerated. Tantrum person then removed themselves to their vehicle and drove around for a while, before returning, suitably chastened, and we experienced no further outbursts.

Was any of this pleasant?

Definitely not.

Was it necessary?

It most certainly was. 

Had we all continued on the path we were on, someone, likely all of us, was going to suffer emotionally and psychologically. And we are a happy family in the scheme of things. What happened, or is happening, to people who already had family challenges?? What happened or is happening, in families where alcohol or drug abuse or mental health issues or domestic violence was an ongoing occurrence? I struggle with that hugely. If you are struggling with any of those mentioned issues, you can find support at:


I do not have the qualifications, nor the experience to advise on issues of that gravity.

I do however have 61 years of life experience, and 30+ years experience in managing people in the workplace, with the accompanying university qualifications, so I do know a little. And I am happy to report, that thus armed with highlighted problems, and accompanying solutions, that Lockdown and the pressures of a Pandemic generally, went a little smoother here.

In a nutshell, ignoring problems such as those mentioned, does not make them go away. They just fester, until the inevitable and unpleasant explosion occurs. 

The best way to deal with the tensions of any situation, and particularly this one, is to tackle them head on. People may yell, some people may cry, some people will likely try to wheedle negotiations to fall in their favour, some people may throw tantrums, as they did in my situation. 

Stay strong and resolute. If you're even reading this, then you are probably the peacemaker in the family anyway. Do not be intimidated by the wants and desires of others. Compromise by everyone is crucial, and airing and acknowledging everyones concerns, an absolute necessity.

1. Call the family together.
2. Outline the rules. Use a prop like a 'talking stick' if it helps.
3. Discuss solutions and do not rule ANY idea out as being too outlandish. Use and encourage words like 'if you can do abc, I am willing to compromise on xyz'.
4. Implement the solutions and check in with all parties regularly to measure the success of those solutions.

Maybe this advice is too little, too late for you. Maybe it's a bit of locking the gate after the horse has bolted and all that. As far as the Pandemic and Lockdowns go at least.

Nonetheless, this remains useful advice for other times yet to come, where you might feel the need for an 'intervention'. I hope it helps.

Meanwhile, I'm sending you a hug and a kiss from me, and the knowledge from a long life, lived well, that things will return to something safer and more familiar. I'm sure of it.



...Mimi...

Other posts in this series:

Living well in challenging times #1

11 comments:

  1. Good on you for addressing the issues before they got completely out of control. I think one problem with the pandemic has been the ongoing nature of it which nobody really recognised. In the early stages everyone (including our political and business leaders) seemed to think it would be all over in a couple of months. Unfortunately, that was never going to be the case and there are certainly different strategies required when you are in it for the long haul. Therefore, there has had to be readjusting on many levels as we go along.

    Personally, we are very lucky that there are only the 2 of us and plenty of room to get out of each other's hair. :) There were a couple of times when the only thing I could do was stand under the shower and cry. Remember, that I was also dealing with my mother's acute but terminal illness, followed by her death and subsequent logistical issues.

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    1. Fairy, my thoughts are always that we can't control the situation, but we CAN control our reactions. Whilst that has been far more challenging in recent times, with the right supports, it can be done. I am sorry for the additional emotional stress of losing your Mum at this time. Words cannot express how difficult I know that must have been. Mimi xxx

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  2. We're lucky to be a pair of introverts in our household who rarely get in each other's hair. There are occasional tired outbursts but usually our clashes are short-lived and readily resolved. However, your post has still given me things to think about. The relentless nature of how drawn out and ongoing the virus is has definitely effected everyone. We've had it easier in WA but of course I have had my own health battle to fight at the same time, which was taxing on my partner as well.

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    1. Jodi, I know what you mean. Scarcely in a lifetime, anyones lifetime, except in a war, have we had to deal with ongoing stress and uncertainty at this level. Having your own life threatening health issues in the midst of all that must have been incredibly difficult. I take my hat off to you. Mimi xxx

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  3. Nice post Mimi. For me, over here in WA, we are not affected by the pandemic...yet. It will come though I'm sure. And then I will cry and panic and be scared. So reading this gets me thinking on preparing for the bad times that are bound to come. Thank you.

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    1. Barb, I hope that you there continue to avoid the worst, as we have where I live. It's been frustrating, overwhelming, and frightening at times, but we got off lightly overall. My heart squeezes for those who've had extended periods of lockdown due to the irresponsible actions of others. Mimi xxx

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  4. Dear Mimi, I wish I could fix things here like you have at yours, weve had a very challenging few years losing my inlaws , and having family here in definitely with theri issues , shall we say . I have tried to say my expectations of how I like our home to be and sad to say I have had outbursts in frustration over the last year or two with a no blood family member who I feel disrespects me and our home . Coivd has just added to all this so I will stop there and thank you for you lovely posts and example .Thanks M .

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    1. M, I am so sad for you. It's hard to deal with your own anxieties and on top of that, the anxieties of multiple 'others'. I struggle with anyone disrespecting a person in their own home, but I do not know the individual details of your situation. I hope that you find peace in your day today. Mimi xxx

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  5. This is very interesting post. I am usually the 'cool as a cucumber' peacemaker in our house, but even I have been strained, snappy and tearful at points during the last 2 mad years. A small house with a grown up daughter unexpectedly stranded back home due to you know what, 2 people trying to work remotely full-time and a young person with severe learning difficulties who was constantly frightened by the things he saw on tv, made for some 'interesting' times. BUT we are a family, we love each other and we work things out. It sounds like your family is much the same. X

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    1. Tracy how could you NOT have felt strained, unhappy and tearful? I'd add frightened, anxious, helpless, and just darned furious that this could happen in our enlightened day and age. You do wonder when we'll ever get back to normal. Yes, we love each other, as you say, but that doesn't mean that I wouldn't have cheerfully locked the other family members out of the house and let them fend for themselves occasionally *wink*. Mimi

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I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx