Some might say that as a Mediator, I live in a “La-La Land” of positivity. I do. But not to my detriment nor the detriment of others. When entering a mediation conference, positivity is welcome because the parties sitting around the conference table are contentious, acrimonious and ready for battle. While all disputes may not come to full agreement, my goal is to always strive toward the best agreement, even if it’s not everything a party wanted or expected.
In addition to mediation I publicly speak at a variety of forums, but mostly within the community association industry. Anyone in the field knows that while issues ranging from landscaping and parking violations to noise and pet complaints, oftentimes the most challenging issue is dealing with the residents – their personalities and points of view. When dealing with residents (people) you are now working with social interaction and human behavior and all that goes along with that. That’s for psychologists and social scientists to teach us. I teach the foundation of effective communication strategies and how-to better deal with people, how to make those interactions positive, successful and respectful in order to avoid conflict and to reach good outcomes.
When I present this program I always jokingly say to the audience “I know, you might think these strategies are all “kumbaya”, but they work!
I recently presented to a group of homeowners’, Board members and Community Association Managers my Effective Communications Strategies course. Following that event, participants like to introduce themselves and ask questions or offer constructive criticism, which I don’t mind if I can learn and grow from their feedback. What I learned from one participants input is that while the message is simple, it may not always be well received. It was mentioned to me a few times that although what I teach is true and valuable, unfortunately we are presently living in a society of cultural and social discourse and it is difficult to apply. Another participant referred to these strategies as “Kool-Aid techniques,” an unfortunate term with a tragic, historical reference. (Richardson, 2014)[i]
During these conversations I asked: when did kindness, consideration and the adage “be good to one another” fall by the wayside and lose its valuable real estate in the forefront of our behavior and in our minds and hearts? It’s a simple principle that doesn’t require fancy credentials, it merely requires awareness, kindness and attention to how we communicate and behave with one another.
There was no value added from the “Kool-Aid technique” comment but my response to that is “La-La Land” is a nice place, and you’re welcome to visit anytime.
[i] Richardson, James D. (2014, November 18). The phrase ‘drank the Kool-Aid’ is completely offensive. We should stop saying it immediately. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/11/18/the-phrase-drank-the-koolaid-is-completely-offensive-we-should-stop-saying-it-immediately/?utm_term=.663cd719fc99