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
"The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said." -- Peter F. Drucker
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:
(a) listening
(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.

LIKEABILITY ... among other qualities and character traits, our kids need likeability. It's what brings favor, honor, respect from others, and leads to future 'promotability'. Likeability is defined as:

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.)
This is a great site I'm part of and another place to find helpful resources. http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Nowell-Bauer
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.

What does it make you think of? Foreign diplomats, flags, fancy buildings, multiple languages? Being an ambassador is a concept built into the Friendship Fixer program. For example, once children are taught how to resolve conflicts, they can more easily function as ambassadors to others; passing on the skills and tools and representing healthy friendships ... building bridges with each other. Can we agree that more "bridge building" is a good thing for our society? Here are a couple insightful descriptions of an ambassador I heard recently while listening to Tom Holladay, and I've added some of my correlating thoughts:
  • Ambassadors live in a country not their own.
  • When implementing Friendship Fixer techniques it may not feel familiar at first, but after time you become more comfortable with it, see the successes, and new habits emerge.
  • Ambassadors represent the country they are from.
  • When using Friendship Fixer techniques we represent the value and importance of healthy relationships to ourselves and to others around us. What a powerful example we have the opportunity to be!
  • Ambassadors are on a temporary assignment, eventually they head back home.
  • For those of us who believe life on this planet is not all there is, we understand that our time here is just practice for something much greater -- eternity. Another way to look at it is what kind of ambassador "legacy" will you leave here? Will you truly value friendships, healthy relationships, and seek to represent complete conflict resolution as ambassadors to others? Employing Friendship Fixer techniques is certainly one effective way to achieve this.
  • Ambassadors always answer to a higher authority.
  • Ah yes, all the "diplomatic immunity" in the world doesn't change the fact that there is ultimately one greater in authority over the ambassador. For those of us who believe in God as our higher authority, we can take comfort and encouragement in knowing that he loves us deeply, and desires reconciliation with us ... a forever friendship. Indeed, because he desires this with us he also compels us to be ambassadors of reconciliation with others ... to be friendship fixers.
Of course, there will be days we don't feel worthy to be an ambassador of healthy relationships -- we haven't treated others right, we haven't been treated right, there's unspoken tension in the way, etc. How do we keep going and doing what we know is right, being the "friendship fixers" we are called to be? We remember that we have the indescribable and humbling gift of being reconciled to God because of what Jesus did for us. First we focus on that, then we can more easily focus on right relationships with others around us.