Wouldn't you agree? There's something special about knowing that we're not alone in something. It brings our world closer. It brings connections we didn't realize existed. It brings community. It certainly brings perspective! Without perspective we seem to wallow or worry in ways that don't help us. Come on, you know you've done it. But, friendship changes that. Friendship turns our eyes toward another instead of just focusing on us. A much needed salve for our self centered epidemic, no?
I love recalling the beginnings of friendships ... when there was a "What! You too?" moment as C.S. Lewis says. A stranger can become a friend at that moment, and a new turn in our human relations journey follows. Pretty soon there are multiple "What! You too?" moments and the friendship bond grows strong and sure.
There was the time a friend and I realized we were both middle-child "peace makers" and we could share numerous stories that seemed eerily similar from our families. Or the time a friend and I realized those formerly hidden health struggles we had could now be shared freely with one another ... allowing the burden to be set down for a little reprieve. What about you? What are some of the "What! You too?" moments that sparked a new friendship for you? I'd love to hear about it.
"What I have in mind instead is the authentic, truly admirable sort of relationship, the sort that was embodied in those rare pairs of famous friends."
In addition to Cicero's still relevant thoughts translated below I submit that friendship is life-giving. I have the gift of authentic friendships in my life and am so grateful. I see how they uplift even the dullest day, cheer away the pains of this broken world, and breathe new life into my hopes and dreams. What about your friendships? Please share your thoughts below.
Marcus Tullius Cicero on Friendship
And so friendship is quite different from all the other things in the world on which we are accustomed to set our hearts. For each and every one of those other objectives is specifically adapted to some single purpose—riches, to be spent; power, to secure obedience; public office, to win praise; pleasure, to enjoy oneself, good health, to be free from pain and make full use of one’s bodily endowments.
Friendship, on the other hand, serves a great host of different purposes all at the same time. It whatever direction you turn, it stll remains yours. No barrier can shut it out. It can never be untimely; it can never be in the way. We need friendship all the time, just as we need the proverbial prime necessities of life, fire and water. I am not speaking of ordinary commonplace friendships, delightful and valuable though they can be. What I have in mind instead is the authentic, truly admirable sort of relationship, the sort that was embodied in those rare pairs of famous friends.
Friendship, then, adds a brighter glow to prosperity and relieves adversity by dividing and sharing the burden. And another of its very remarkable advantages is this. It is unique because of the bright rays of hope it projects into the future: it never allows the spirit to falter or fail. When a man thinks of a true friend, he is looking at himself in the mirror. Even when a friend is absent, he is present all the same. However poor he is, he is rich: however weak, he is strong. And may I attempt to convey an even more difficult concept? Even when he is dead, he is still alive. He is alive because his friends still cherish him, and remember him, and long for him. This means that there is happiness even in his death—he ennobles the existences of those who are left behind. Take away the bond of kindly feeling from the world, and no house or city can stand. Even the fields will no longer be cultivated.
Marcus Tullius Cicero, Laelius: On Friendship, composed by Cicero in the summer of 44 BCE (translated from the Latin by Michael Grant, 1971), cited in Entersection
It's when we take time to listen for what isn't being said that we move forward by leaps and bounds in our conflict resolution efforts, and ultimately (ideally) results.
But let's first back up to an understanding of conflict resolution. Without resorting to a dry, 'dictionary-esque' definition I propose we view conflict resolution as the process of getting to reconciliation. Reconciliation involves something deeper than a quick, simple apology that sticks a 'band-aid' on a situation. It's much more whole and healing, and it sets up the relationship for greater strength in the future.
Conflict resolution involves these key steps. They may or may not necessarily happen in this order as sometimes resolution discussions take different twists and turns. Generally, these steps will be included in the process of getting to reconciliation:
(b) determining the contributions that lead to the conflict
(c) offering and accepting apologies as needed
(d) exchanging ideas for a solution(s)
(e) offering and receiving forgiveness, and
(f) agreeing on a solution.
Each part of this conflict resolution process is necessary for getting to reconciliation. We can't pick the parts we like, or those that are most comfortable, and skip the others. Conflict resolution can be messy. It's not simple. It takes work. But that's why when we get to reconciliation there is more of a wholeness and 'healed' feeling to the relationship. Do you agree? What other thoughts do you have about conflict resolution and reconciliation? I'd love to hear them.
When a conflict's resolution is about power, the question of right & wrong is sidestepped, creating a profound distortion of what apology is meant to be.
Curse of the Good Girl by Rachel Simmons (page 72)
I'm thoroughly enjoying reading this book at the moment and this statement above caught my attention. The book breaks down the issues with how, primarily girls, deal with conflict and try to maintain their "Good Girl" status in the process. It's becoming more clear with each turn of the page that they are not doing a good job with conflict resolution. And, thankfully, it further affirms the need to teach girls AND boys how to properly deal with and resolve conflict ... for the present and future health of their relationships throughout life!
Friendship Fixer lessons make a big point about understanding the contribution to the conflict, properly dealing with it ... and remembering that it doesn't end with apology. We like to say, "A friendship is fully fixed when forgiveness is found."
So, what do you think apology is meant to be? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
(NOTE: While I don't appreciate some of the language used in the book it's clear the author is maintaining the integrity of direct quotes from the groups of pre-teen and teen girls she has been doing research with at her Institute.)
Walking the path less traveled is bold. Sometimes it is purely peaceful and necessary for one's rejuvenation. Other times, walking the path less traveled, standing alone, requires insane courage ... like in the face of bullies, or in response to repetitive and nagging friendship issues. Courage is what's needed to defeat bullies. Courage requires leadership, confidence, compassion, and empathy. Yes, perhaps there is more to courage, however, these are the 'biggies'. Notice the combination of strong and gentle? Some of the best 'bully-thwarting' phrases are, "Stop, leave me alone!" or "Stop, don't do that!" or "No, don't do that!" Said with confidence and conviction, these have been proven to dramatically reduce and/or eliminate the bullying behavior. What NOT to do in response to a bully: cry, whine, insult, threaten. More posts to come on this topic.
Questions: How do you incorporate these characteristics into your role modeling for the next generation? Or when was the last time you needed to demonstrate courage? How did it go? Please share your comments.
There's a great proverb of Solomon that says, "A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent person overlooks an insult." As I was reading about being quick to listen and slow to speak this proverb seemed to go hand-in-hand. Why is it that for so many of us, me included, the natural tendency is to show our annoyance and anger? Stress? Lack of sleep? Lack of self-discipline? It's the way we saw things handled growing up? Whatever the reason, we know it doesn't produce the results we're actually looking for. Sure, we may temporarily feel better by lashing out, but then we've got to do damage control. I don't know about you, but I've had to do some damage control over the 40+ years of my life and it never gets any easier. I'd like to avoid that path, how about you?
When I dig a little deeper into the proverb and being quick to listen and slow to speak it admonishes me to understand that by doing this I'm increasing empathy toward others. Empathy is good. I like when I receive empathy from others. It's reassuring, healing, even comforting. So why wouldn't I want to give more of that away? It's a daily choice. It's a choice I need to make in every relationship. I have a feeling the more I give it away, the more I am likely to receive.
This concept of being quick to listen and slow to speak is a big part of Step 2 in the Friendship Fixer program and will be a focus area for our second book (coming soon!). If we as adults sometimes struggle to offer more empathy in our relationships through listening, how must kids be handling this? I'm convicted and inspired to be a solid role model for them and to keep bringing these important messages to them in engaging and creative ways so they have the tools they need in their "backpack of life skills" for healthy relationships. Will you join me? Please feel free to share your thoughts.
Wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, lover of dark chocolate and books, the beach, healthy living, meaningful education, and of course, friendship.