Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Voting with our feet.....

It's Julie day again. Thankfully. I can honestly say there's not a single one of her prompts that I haven't liked, that haven't made me think, even if I chose to not participate that week.

In this case, she prompts a few different scenarios with a "what would you do" undertone.

The different scenarios didn't speak to me but the common thread running through them did.

How do we deal with conflict?

The first thing that comes to mind is that we all deal with situations according to our own conditioning. We are all socialized differently and the way we'd respond to any particular situation depends on how that was modeled for us, what we've done that works and what doesn't. And, of course, our own objective. Do we want to please? How invested are we in resolution?

When it comes to customer service issues, I am rather heartless. If my expectations are not met, I vote with my feet. Chances are I won't verbally confront. I just cancel the service without explanation.

When it comes to social situations, I can be equally heartless. I find it exceedingly difficult to stand by and say nothing when I believe something is wrong or potentially harmful.

Given my personal conditioning, in the past I would simply spit my opinions out like olive pits with little regard for where they land or who they hit. I was blunt. Tactless. I had no particular regard for diplomacy because I lived in a black/white world. If something was wrong, it was to be crushed. If it was right and wholesome, I supported it in an equally strident manner.

But then... we grow up eventually. And in my case, Thailand came along. I began my acculturation process there. My style changed. My values changed.

Both of those things forced me to view it a bit differently. The first consideration is that while I do still confront the things I see as wrong (potentially harmful to me, others, the community, the world), I try to do it with a bit of softness, allow others to save face and still get my message across.

It's all about speaking your truth with kindness. When we see something that's wrong, we don't have to be angry. We can use it as an opportunity to present different values, a different way of doing things - perhaps a way that will benefit everyone.

I've come to believe that the way we do these things is similar to the flow of water. From stream to river to lake to ocean. In the same manner, what we put out flows from self to others to community to nation to world. The way we choose to treat others in our daily lives will ultimately translate to the way a nation treats other nations and has a worldwide effect.

So now I try to stop myself. I've made no secret here how I feel about social networking, inclusion and exclusion. Just this morning while blog-surfing, I saw something that irritated me. In the interest of diplomacy, I won't say what. It was just evidence of cliquishness.

As another minor example, one in which I am not constrained by diplomacy, I was irritated recently by the exclusionary behavior that was on GoodReads where people gathered "friends" and it's put out along with our profiles in numbers. Naturally the purpose of this is to create competition for "friends" and the usual acceptance/snubbing behavior began. Lord of the Flies on a community literary site. Charming.

Because of my old conditioning, I was tempted to simply sign off and forget about it. I really detest that behavior and it does make me angry.

What is wrong with simply enjoying books? Why does it have to become some social nonsense like that, I thought.

This is only about books for me. I am not looking for a bosom buddy. I'm not offering to make casseroles, pay anyone's bills, go to their funeral or have their baby.

It's about books, for crying out loud!

The old me would have simply signed off and disappeared. I would have voted with my feet.

The new me thought about it a bit and decided to let it go. A lot of that kind of behavior is age-dependent. It's also a result of other people's conditioning. I chose to ignore it. Was it a bit of a struggle? Yes. It was. But that's part of growing up on my part and living my culture rather than just mouthing on about it.

In the case of something blatant, I will still say something - kindly - hoping to create change but another part of the process of aging is choosing our battles with a bit more care.

GoodReads was hardly worth it. Day-to-day annoyances are hardly worth it.

Julie's example of exclusion in the case of the birthday party or the dad in the playgroup would have had me speaking up because both of those things do have potentially damaging results in the long term for individuals and communities.

So I guess this is how we choose. How important is it? What would be the potential long term outcome? Is it really harmful to ourselves, to others, to our communities or to the world? Is this based on principle or is it just my ego speaking?

Most things are the latter. I wasn't treated right. I got snubbed. I didn't get what I want. It's not that important. It's important to differentiate between those things that involve truly universal principles and stand up for them and those things that are just our egos running wild, wanting validation.

Stream to river to lake to ocean.

So.. that's my hai dong for the moment. :)



Anonymous said...

I am much more likely to stand up for someone else than for myself. I think I can handle it, but I should never allow an injustice.

Robert said...

I really like that: stream to river to lake to ocean. I can definitely see how what we do can reflect in our community and beyond. Excellent, thought provoking post. Choosing your battles is pretty wise, too.

Julie Pippert said...

Thanks for the kind words about the roundtable.

I *really* like your questions and criteria.

I had to read this, sit back and ponder, and come back and read again.

I used a light tone in my post because I'm feeling rather sarcastic just now due to a bit of annoyance fatigue, if that makes any sense.

The serious side to my flippant comment about noticing a change in my style is that it has been an evolution, albeit one I haven't really had the time to explore like I'd like to due to so many demands on me right now. But I do believe, when I sat and pondered, that it does reflect a growing and a better standard for when and how to use my words. I believe I'm getting better about asking good questions, which is just as important as having good answers (sometimes more so).

I have a been a little rough on myself about these standards. "I should have said something to those people about that situation," or "I shouldn't have said anything." The worst is when I wonder about what to do.

So that's why I think your questions are good guidelines.

Great post. I'm so glad you did it.

Anonymous said...


You bring up many good points about resolving conflict. I'm not good at it when emotions, which are fleeting and volcanic come into play.

Really analyzing a situation and determining the outcome seems so much harder in those types of conflicts.

I still err on the side of not speaking up, specifically when I should but I think it's getting better, maybe. Thank you for providing even more for me to act on and another way in which to view personal conflicts.

Rima said...

I really like what you said about the ripple effect of our behavior. It is so easy to forget the impact a handful of words can have. And I do believe that the hearts of individuals, communities, and countries *can* eventually be changed by a small impetus.

On another note, I am not a member of GoodReads, but I find it shocking that even a book site like that is playing the old popularity game. Geez. I thought it was just about books, too!

niobe said...

Interesting. I have so little faith in my ability to distinguish between good and bad and in the ability of others to listen to criticism, however politely voiced, that I tend, as you put it, to vote with my feet, without any discussion.

le35 said...

The questions about why are good questions. One of my questions to myself has become, "Am I worth it? If someone's snubbing me, is it worth the friendship? Otherwise, some of my questions in the past had me wondering why I wasn't worth inviting. In the end, it doesn't matter. If they don't want me there, I don't want to be there.

Anvilcloud said...

It's all about speaking your truth with kindness. When we see something that's wrong, we don't have to be angry.

Well said but sometimes hard for me ... and sometimes not.

Mariposa said...

How do we deal with conflicts? THAT is harder than doing my Six Sigma manually..LOL

Years before, I thought that question is avoidable...but now I know better. I get confronted with that quesion everyda...and I have to sort them out to categories, conflicts in the family, friends, work, general external environment like store, moviehouse, restaurants...etc.

I can be rude...and sarcastic, ok, replace that with I AM rude and sarcastic, yet, for whatever reason, I'm just not that when there is conflict!

At home, I'm more rageholic. I'm more emotional. But the most important part there is, once we move on from one conflict, it's really over. So that is family with me...we can throw anything there because we know that at the end of everything, we are there for each other. I have to thank my Mom for this.

Work conflicts...ha! I can blog about it. People where I work are worst the politicians. They throw Sh*t at you and damn if you speak up and damn if you don't. I've had my share too...but I found out one important thing...and it helps be getby. I just do my job, and man, I do it WELL that they have to freak out because whether they admit it or not, they are just things that ONLY me can do. And I try not to take things too I get hurt, yes, but do I dwell on it too long, no, well I try not to. I struggle not to. I tell myself, I will never be like them. The young me would have left them suicidal with my insults...but now, I'm just trying to kill them with kindness. But as human and as fragile as I am, I get tired I try to have a list of good things that I can do to help me get re-charged.

For friends and other things...I'm trying to to be more tolerant...and yes patient too! ;)

Sorry for the long post!

P.S. "It's all about speaking your truth with kindness. When we see something that's wrong, we don't have to be angry." - very inspiring!

TwoSquareMeals said...

I would say you used your words very wisely today! This is an excellent post in so many ways.

Amy Y said...

I'm really bad about mouthing off when I feel like my customer service has been less than wonderful. I work in an industry where I have to treat customers well and I figure, if I can do it, so can anyone else in the industry. So I demand it. I could stand to be a lil more patient but I sort of feel like I'm helping do the world a service. ;)

The goodreads thing is a little too myspacey, huh? But I suppose it's a myspace world now.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

"Lord of the Flies" on a community literary site has me giggling wildly.

I have learned that opinions offered in gentleness are often heard better than strident ones, although sometimes I forget and revert to my familiar righteous indignation.

Your analogy abut water flowing is a lovely, valid one, and I love this post altogether.

I'm glad you chose to share this hai dong with the rest of us.

melissa said...

Excellent! I'm trying to think about something to add that hasn't already been said and it's not working. :)

But I can tell you that my MIL happened to read my post today and things have been, shall we say, interesting....

thailandchani said...

Emily, that's the way I am, too. I squawk when I see something that is an injustice to all people. Sometimes I'm the catalyst. Sometimes it's someone else. Either way, it needs to be put on the table.


Robert, thank you. :) It's really just simple dialectics. There's no way to escape it. We don't do things in a vacuum.


Julie, yes.. I do know what annoyance fatigue is. I reach it *much* more easily than you do. When I had to be in the world in a different way than I am now, it was much harder to stick to the standards I have now. In some ways, my standards are a privilege.. but they do seem to work.

You're thinking. And you're mindful. That's what really matters. The rest seems to fall into place organically.


Ria, that's the danger of letting emotions run away with us. With my nuclear temper, I really do understand! But at some point, we have to force ourselves to defy our conditioning and get free to make choices.

I've found that I have to walk away when I'm really angry. Sometimes physically.. sometimes just in my head. There has to be that space of time between action and reaction.


Rima, it really was disappointing about GoodReads. I still read the recommendations but I'm not going to do the popularity thing. I tried it for a while in other settings but it's just too inconsistent with my value system.

Ripple effect indeed.. even in that setting. :)


Niobe, I still do that sometimes, too. If I don't have faith in the situation or the outcome, sometimes it's the best option.


Le, I'm with you to a degree. I guess I know I'm worth it.. but do I want to put myself out there in such a vulnerable position to actually *ask* someone, that's another issue altogether. I'm a major believer in not casting our pearls before swine.. so it's a judgment call.

It's never about you though. I believe that. It's always about the person who is reflecting their own values in their actions.

Ex: someone making plans and inviting others in front of us. Who would want a friend like that anyway?


Anvil, same here. Sometimes it's hard.. sometimes it's not. Largely depends on the circumstances.


Mariposa, I believe, as you know, that workplaces are the most toxic environments on the planet. The battlefield in Iraq is probably safer. My standard for workplaces is very, very different. As an old revolutionary once said,"Keep your back to the wall, your ass down, your mouth shut and your powder dry." You're on enemy territory.

There is no sense in applying human standards to those places. I can't even bring myself to do it without laughing.


TwoSquares, thank you. :)


Amy, I can understand that and hope that we would all treat customer service people well, too. I did Technical Support for a while and dealing with the public is a misery like none other.

yes.. definitely too myspacy. I can't stand any of those sites. :)


Susan, thanks. It's something I aspire to.. always presenting my views kindly.. but I can't claim I always live up to it.


Melissa, it is my personal feeling that any humiliation your MIL might have felt was well-earned.

I can't imagine such a thing. Really. It's hard to grasp.



jen said...

i noticed that about goodreads too...what is that about?

and re your comment, am curious which ones!?

thailandchani said...

Jen, your guess is as good as mine. I think I'm just getting too old to find the "fun" in it. It just seems silly and stupid.

My two favorites.. I'll have to look them up because I remember the content but not what you named them. They both have to do with why you are moving to Belize.


Angela said...


I love your writing. Stream to river to lake to ocean. I find that my evolution has lead me more the other way, as in speaking up more, but I still try to be tactful, diplomatic and kind. It seems I can't help it - I am able to put myself in other's shoes. I think that's called empathy and compassion, but sometimes it's to my own detriment and that's where my learning comes in. I am just as important as anyone else, right? Thanks for always getting my noodle cooking.

Aliki2006 said...

Filled with things to think about--that's what this post is. I like your parameters, too--your suggestion to think about he short-term or long-term effects. Well done.

thailandchani said...

Angela, I've found that different people have to modulate this stuff differently. I was always a loudmouth, too blunt, too demanding, too everything. It became important to tone it down.

Many women though especially seem to need to learn to speak up.


Aliki, thanks. :) I appreciate it. I'm really glad Julie prompted this topic.



Molly said...

"Speaking the truth with kindness---I really like that. But even better, you are living your truth with kindness---putting your money where your mouth is.

storyteller said...

In this post, you remind me of my sister so much!
Hugs and blessings,