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Issue 16

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ASKramer A sAfe spAce for your questions And concerns About conflict in your life Kramer is a professional mediator, author and freelance photographer who traveled the world studying and sharing human cultures around the globe. A professional mediator since 1993, he helps people resolve conflicts in a number of arenas including: family issues, workplace and business conflicts, divorce, parent/child conflict and educational institutions. ELLEN ASKS: How does one resolve conflicts with people who believe they are 'always right about everything' and never budge? I ask this both on a personal level and because Congress could use this answer as well!! DEAR ELLEN: There are important considerations to be made in addressing any conflict. One is to determine whether or not the other party is willing or capable of engaging in a sincere conflict resolution process. We each have our own conflict resolution tool kit. A child who throws a tantrum as soon as he is denied some thing he desires displays a limited tool kit or capacity for resolving conflict. The unrelenting stance of an adult who always has to be right may be a revelation of an equally limited conflict manage ment toolkit. If you are engaging in some sort of com munication or relationship with a person who never admits to being wrong, that person may be suffering from some degree of personality disorder such as narcissism or anti-social personalitydisorder. If you share a workplace with this person and she/he is above you in the corporate hierarchy, attempting to resolve the conflict could jeopardize your job. In regard to your referenceto Congress, there are numerous articles commen - ting on the narcissistic behaviors of many politicians. In an article in NationalReview online, historian Victor Davis Hanson recounts several legislators who recently made headlines with narcissistic behavior. Hanson asks the question, "Do narcissists gravitate to political office, or does the insular, Versailles-like nature of a Washington, an Albany, or a Sac ra mento turn normal men into narcissists?" If reasonable attempts to resolve conflict are rebuffed, contact a local mediator for advice or intervention. If the person is truly immovable from their position, I sincerely hope the conflict doesn't involve children and custody issues. In such cases, litigation may be your only recourse. MARY ASKS: I have been accused of being a "serial monoga mist." What is wrong with that?? Exactly WHAT is it? DEAR MARY: The question triggers a huge topic with multiple aspects. The ongoing debates, challenges, religious and secular edicts and judgments on the nature of relationships indicates that there is no one answer for everyone and the nature of relation ships is not static and cemented in form but ever evolving and changing. If you're an 62 A Distinctive style . com optimist, serial monogamy implies that you will not stay in a relation - ship that reveals no hope of providing the love and nurturance both of you need. Instead you are willing to try any number of differing personalities until you find the "one" relationship for you. If you're a pessimist, it may imply that you are not capable of or interested in long term, stable relationships. A combination of the two points of view may also be valid. A conservative approach would be that whatever happens, no matter how unhappy you are in marriage, that is your life's destiny and you make it work. However, given the strength of patriarchy throughout most human cultures, those terms often benefit men more than women. Democracy is a fairly recent invention and the liberation of women from the older confines of the societal norms is even more recent and, along with the rest of the human race, still evolving. From that foundation, my brief response to your question is that you are guilty of not being willing to stay in relationships in which you feel marginalized, manipulated, controlled and unacknowl edged. The early stages of all relationships are artificial in many ways; after a few months or years, they evolve into the rhythms and patterns that reflect the true natures of the participants. One day you wake up and say, "I'm no longer feeling the affection that enticed me into this relationship; instead I'm feeling unsatisfied and while it seems to work for him, it leaves me completely un-nurtured and unhappy. At that point, "until death do us part" really means, "until the death of our love do us part." I have a longer theory about the quest to find the perfect relationship. Since as humans we have our frailties and since we are continually evolving, there is no ultimate state of perfection, only the perfection of being in process. If the process facilitates one or both of you changing in ways that no longer fit within the relation - ship as it was established, either you reinvent the relation ship (hopefully together, in collaboration) or you move on with your newly evolved self into a relationship that in some way reflects the growth you have experienced. If you have a question for Kramer you can email him at: ASKramer @adistinctivestyle.net

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