Dove with Branch
February 4, 2008 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk
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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, My boyfriend seems to be unaware of basic good manners. He is often inconsiderate of my feelings. He has no patience to wait for me or others yet he is often late. When we are out in public he will make fun of the way I dress and the way I wear my hair, and he knows I am uncomfortable with that. How can I get him to change? - Brandi in Atlanta

Dear Brandi, You can't; unless he wants to. We learn our manners as we grow up. You have to make it clear to him that the ones he learned are not good for you. If he is interested in learning to do things differently and wants to change then be patient and work with him. Have some patience with him if he is trying. Old habits are sometimes hard to break. You can always just accept his bad manners, but that comes at a high price to a loving relationship. If you don't totally accept the way he is (or becomes) it will be a constant source of stress that will make the relationship less than acceptable to you. - the Dean

Dear Dean, I have a supervisor at work who is demanding and abrasive and she has piled so much work on me that I am no longer able to carry on a civil conversation with her. - K.G. in Madison

Dear K.G., This is of course a very complex question and you must look at many additional aspects to determine your answer. But let's look at some of the things you need to consider given what you have said. The fact that you can't talk to your boss is your problem not hers. If you are going to keep this job you must learn how to stay in a positive relationship with your boss. It will be helpful if you can find ways to shift her in ways that will make the relationship better for you, but don't count on it. Meeting her needs as best you can in a positive manner will usually go a long way. Not talking to her is not positive and usually adds to the problem by creating negative feelings and a lack of the information you need to do your work. Start by looking for the reasons you feel fearful or angry about the relationship, or start looking for a new work experience. - the Dean

I welcome questions and/or comments from our readers. Send your Ask the Dean questions or comments to: P.O. Box 535, Elmira, OR 97437, or visit www.DeanOfPeace.com. to submit by e-mail.

Law, Politics & Society ... As I see them
  Globe Magnify Glass

Your neighbor's dog comes onto your lawn and leaves a deposit. You are upset and you don't want this to happen again. What do you do about it? Do you shout at your neighbor or throw it back on his lawn, or maybe both? This is a solution that may feel good at the time. But how effective will it be in solving the problem? What is the real problem in the first place? Isn't the real problem living peacefully with your neighbors?

When we get angry and retaliate, how effective are we in dealing with the bigger problem? Not very! But this is what we do all too often - in personal as well as international relations. We often don't even stop to examine the circumstances and find out exactly what happened, or why. Was it intentional, negligent, or unintended? Perhaps he looks at it as fertilizing the lawn and doesn't even realize that you don't.

We don't even know if our neighbor is aware of what happened. We immediately blame and dislike our neighbor regardless of the circumstances, even though our cat may be misusing their backyard. Let's talk to our neighbor in a friendly way to bring attention to and resolve these kinds of problems. We can then find solutions that are compatible with the underlying problem of living together in peace.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Train yourself to be a good listener by learning how to "listen deeply." To do this you must put your own thoughts and beliefs aside, and really focus on what the other person is saying.

Unfortunately, most conversations can be characterized as "my stuff/your stuff." They can be likened to a strange game of tennis - played with two separate balls. You serve your ball to me. I let it pass and serve my ball back to you. You let it pass and serve your ball back to me. The game continues this way - with neither player receiving the other person's ball. In such an instance, it obviously isn't a game at all. And in a conversation with the same characteristics, it's not really a conversation at all. You want to tell your story and I want to tell mine. We never hear the other person's story because we are too busy telling our own. How many conversations have you had lately that went that way?

We can diffuse another person's anger simply by putting an end to the "my stuff/your stuff" game and truly listening to that person. Interestingly, very often when you give the angry person the courtesy of politely listening to what they have to say, without interrupting them or retaliating in anger, their anger is reduced.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Pay attention to how you listen when others talk.

Tuesday: Learn to think only about what the other person is saying without thinking of how it relates to your life.

Wednesday: Learn to answer the other person fully before you relate any story of your own..

Thursday: Pay attention to what the other person is feeling when they talk.

Friday: Be patient and do not interrupt the other person while they are talking.

Saturday: Learn to ask questions that help you understand what the other person is saying and feeling.

Sunday: Address the other person's concerns before you raise any of your own.

Dean Van Leuven is a psychologist, conducts workshops and is the author of A Peaceful New World and many other books dealing with quality of life issues. Contact him on the web at: www.DeanOfPeace.com

Additional Notes
 

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