Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday's Wisdom: Confronting Conflict

Homeschool leaders are sometimes caught in the middle of opposing sides. It can be difficult to umpire everyone through the difficult differences of opinion and pull them together to negotiate a solution. Sometimes homeschool leaders even have to negotiate with those opposing their own opinion. Who is going to win? How can everyone walk away feeling like they each hit a homerun and experienced a win-win situation?

For the best answers to our conflict resolution questions, we interviewed Lyndsay Lambert, a seasoned leader with wisdom gained from experiences locally and regionally.

Tim and Lyndsay Lambert have served Texas homeschoolers since 1990 as leaders of the Texas Home School Coalition. Their sacrifice, dedication and excellent example has blessed thousands here. We can credit their leadership with much of our continued freedom to homeschool in Texas.

Last week we began this series of excerpts from Lyndsay Lambert's words on confronting conflict. Today is the continuation.

Suit up to put this into practice because you just might take some hits at some point, and this will be good information to know. Be strong and stay in the game. There's a great reward in the end if you do.

Denise & Kristen

HGL: If the cause is a difference of opinions, how would you deal with those causing the conflict within the group?

Lyndsay Lambert: (continued) The "U" of the PAUSE Principle of Negotiation is to Understand their interests. You identify their concerns, their desires, needs, or limitations. Let's say, for example, that some people in the support group want to have a prom. That can be a pretty touchy situation--especially when you get people who don't believe in dancing or if you've got people who believe in courtship and guys and girls shouldn't touch each other. Then on the other side, you have people who want all of the benefits. They want to teach their kids how to do ballroom dancing and want to make sure their children don't resent homeschooling. They want to make sure that they get to have all of the different experiences.

You can see that in a situation like that you've got people on two totally different ends of the spectrum. What you have to do then is understand where everyone is trying to go. What is the goal here? What are you trying to accomplish? What are these people trying to accomplish who want to have the prom? Understand that they want their children to have a good feeling toward homeschooling and not to feel like they have missed a lot of stuff.

What you do is bring these two groups of people together and Search for creative solutions. That's the "S' of the PAUSE Principle. You have to bring them together and search for what would accomplish the goals of these two sets of people--without offending them or going against their standards.

Basically, you brainstorm and throw out all kinds of ideas and work toward something that could meet those objectives. For example, maybe one of the ideas would be to have a junior/senior banquet instead of a dance. They will still get to dress up, still get to go out with their friends, but there wouldn't be any dancing.

Lastly, the "E" of the PAUSE Principle is to Evaluate objectively and reasonably. The trick on this one is to evaluate--not to argue. What we've got to try to do is set aside our selfish desires in order to be able to come together and negotiate something that all the parties can live with.

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