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My Parent, My Mentor


Three Pluses and a Wish


New Idea for Conflict Resolution



December 01, 2009
I was recently introduced to this management strategy by a reader of mine. She uses this tool to ease tensions in meetings, particularly when disputes are being ironed out.

This is how the strategy works: before sharing a grievance, a person must share three positives regarding the thing they are complaining about. At first I thought, "yeah, right." But then I really started to think about the philosophy behind this tool. It made me wonder how much conflict could be resolved using this approach.

What does "three pluses" do anyway? Actually, it does lot. Three pluses forces you to consider what you like about the situation or person. Or, at the very least, what their strengths are. It gives you some cool off time. While you are busy thinking of the positives, that heat you are feeling inevitably will wane a bit. It also humanizes. When we humanize those around us, we interact better with them and our communication is more successful. Finally, this is the kind of tool that sticks with you. Although it is a simple strategy, it is also a mindset, a mindset of conflict resolution and cooperation, not just winning.

Well, naturally, this brings me to parenting. What a gift to give our kids. What if we decide to practice "three pluses and a wish" at home? What if, as parents, we decide to teach our kids how to view disputes in a different light? We could teach them to see a bigger picture when they are tugging at a toy or arguing over who gets the bathroom first.

I have decided to try this at home. And I have a couple of predictions to make. First, I know my kids will go for it, because we as a family are always up for new things. Second, I can see them rolling their eyes when we have our first actual conflict. And I see the inevitable grin when they have to come up with their positives. I guess that is the first diffuser right there. I also see them solving their conflicts quicker when they see mom coming over to intervene with some "three pluses and a wish" directives. Hey, whatever works, right?

I wonder if this would work for your family? Give it a try. I was in a meeting recently that had a lot of conflict in it. I found myself silently "three plussing" the people in the room. I felt calm and centered the whole time. Who knows, maybe what's good for our kids is good for us too?

Maria Murphy is a mom, writer and therapist. You can read more and get some cool free downloads at www.simplyputtogether.com.

Maria Murphy is a speaker, consultant and writer. Her book and blog column can be found at www.simplyputtogether.com. Maria Murphy writes a monthly mentoring column for Tutor/Mentor Connection of Chicago, http/www.tutormentorconnection.org. Her column is distributed throughout mentoring agencies of N/E Florida through Kessler Mentoring Connection at http/www.mentoringconnection.org. She is also a columnist for My Nassau Sun, a subsidiary of the Jacksonville Times Union.
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