As a follow up to last week’s tip here is a list of some antidotes to Lateral Violence…
- Increase Positivity – There’s lots of research on the benefits of positivity. It’s linked to high levels of productivity and physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellness. Folks thrive in environments characterized by good feelings, high levels of trust and a sense of overall wellness. Spend time engaging folks in activities and dialogue that focuses on what’s working and the strengths of our system.
- Reduce Toxins – Work on a plan to reduce the use of Blame, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling. Toxins take their toll over time on the health and well being of our communities. They prevent us from resolving conflicts and keep us stuck in a negative cycle of finger pointing. The first step is to become aware of them and then begin to name them in a non-blaming way when the show up!
- Develop Awareness – Self-awareness and awareness of others is key to improving communication and our relationships. When we are able to self reflect and develop conscious awareness we build our capacity to be at choice rather than in a reactive mode. In other words we become empowered to make different choices by reflecting on what has worked or not worked in the past and what we want to do differently moving forward. Mastery of reflection and ongoing development of awareness is a critical leadership skill.
- Address Issues Directly – Wherever possible encourage folks to work their problems out directly. Whether it’s between two people or a group of people the more we are able to come together to address issues directly there greater chance for resolution and ultimately change. Create intentional spaces where we can start to address important issues together.
- Carry Power Consciously – Each of us has a unique power that stems from who we are in the world. Power is contextual and fluctuates so I invite everyone to reflect on where they hold power and begin to use it consciously. Become aware of folks around you and the impact you want to have. This is especially important for leaders who want to build trust within their communities.
- Develop Role Flexibility – Become aware of the different roles at play within your system and notice which roles you gravitate to you. Are you the mediator, peacemaker, martyr, caregiver, leader, hero, victim, abuser or villain? If you always get pulled into the role of saying all the tough things then you may need a break. Perhaps it’s time for someone else to carry that role for a while. Remember that you don’t belong to these roles. Role belong to our system and we must be able to step away from roles that are no longer serving us and step into roles that our systems needs in order to thrive.
- Respond to Triggering – Educate yourself and others about how to recognize the signs of triggering. If we are triggered we are not capable of having a skillful conversation. We actually need to take a break and revisit the conversation at a later date. At best we can only soothe one another until the physiological signs of triggering subside and we begin to self regulate again. Often, unskillful conflicts and hurt feelings happen when we are in a triggered state.
Although this list is not exhaustive, it a good start. By no means are these things easy to implement but with practice and determination we can change the patterns in our relationships. It is possible to transform our communities one relationship at a time.
Be kind to yourself and others.