No More Drama: Real life problem solving was the name of workshop I gave this week to a group of young Gen Y women (16-18). These young women are part of a life skills program and the workshop objective was to explore conflict and problem solving. The workshop kicked off by asking for a definition of drama.
How do you define drama?
Fights or arguments with family, boyfriends, girlfriends, acquaintances, etc at school, work, or home. A play!
Next, I asked them to draw a picture of a day full of drama. Then had them draw a second picture of a day without drama. When they were finished and sharing their pictures I asked them the following:
When you envision a day with drama what do you feel?
Anger, frustration, fear, power, anxiety
When you envision a day without drama, what do you feel?
Happiness, pure joy, fun, laughter, solitude, confidence
Exactly! If we know living without drama feels so much better and that we have a choice about having it in our lives, why is it so hard to avoid?
Much of conflict and conflict resolution is about creating stories. Storytelling is a natural tendency we have to explain our experiences. And we can use stories to generate drama or resolve it. When conflict arises we create two stories!
In the first story, you’re the hero and the person you are in conflict with is the villain. The information and facts on the story support your perception and give you the feeling of being right.
In the second story, you make excuses for your own behavior and choices to protect your ego.
In the first story, you’re right, and in the second story, they’re wrong.
These stories are barriers to resolving the problem because we get stuck focusing on the information that serves our own individual stories. If you’re creating a story, they’re creating a story too!
One of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People identified by author Stephen Covey is “Seek first to understand then to be understood”. Meaning, to successfully avoid drama and resolve conflict, putting ego and pride aside and valuing the other person’s story is essential. This is when you create a third story.
The third story is an opportunity to build a bridge between the two parties in conflict. Each of you has to:
- Agree that there is no hero or villain
- Stop making excuses for your beliefs and behaviors by justifying your actions
- Accept responsibility
Tell a story where both of you have common goals, can accept the others goals and agree on behaviors that okay. Co-create a story where you both are the heroes and there is a resolution that serves the relationship, not just the individuals in the relationship.
It is challenging to avoid drama all together; however, if in fact, our “drama” are the plays and stories of our lives, we can choose the roles we play.
Hungry for more? Read Storytelling in Conflict by Cloke and Goldsmith