Lately, I'm finding myself asking the other person in my house, aka my partner, when he is planning to go into the office or Starbucks or the gym or ANYWHERE as he is always home! I sometimes just look at him sitting at the dining table (which is apparently now his "desk") and wonder why he can't feel my eyes boring into the back of his head; why his computer doesn't suddenly go up in flames!! I say this in jest as we are all spending more time together as we cope with managing our jobs, school and health during this period. It can get a little stressful and being on our best behavior isn't always possible. Fortunately, it is summer so we have the option of going outside to take a walk or sit in the yard or on the deck; we don't always have to be inside the same 4 walls -- sometimes we can go on the other side of the wall! At the same time, we have to keep our sense of humor and since this is one of the things I love about my partner, we have adopted communicating through our cat, Frank. When we want to say something to the other that may otherwise be taken as a criticism, we will start with "Frank says...".
For example, the other day, I found my laundry piling up and my partner had basically commandeered the washing machine. I said, "Frank says that you should remove your clean clothes from the dryer because my clothes are starting to stink". As opposed to me criticizing his need to immediately wash his gym clothes the moment he takes them off, which is what I really wanted to say! Later, my partner said to me, "Frank says that you should water the yard because she's concerned that the grass is looking a little brown". As opposed to hey, stupid, are you planning to let the lawn die??
So who is this Frank cat? First, Frank is a female who is about 8 years old. She has feral genes so she's a bit unpredictable. She's grey and very cute, as far as cats go (yep, I'm a dog person!). She imprinted on my partner and she really only seems to like him. However, if he is gone (ahh, the good ol' days!), she will find my lap, curl up and fall asleep. She has recently become more adventurous and seems to have a little bit of "guard cat" in her. Over the 3 years I've lived with Frank, I've had mixed feelings about her but she has grown on me recently. Not sure why she was given a traditionally male name but she does answer to it!
Using "Frank says" is ironic in our home as Frank could care less. First, she is a cat. And second, she is only interested in a warm lap. The reason I share this communication approach is that it keeps humor in our relationship and lightens what could feel like a criticism. My partner and I are not use to spending so much time together. We have strong personalities. We disagree. Using "Frank says" language helps to soften the message and prepares the other by letting them know that the message is important. And since Frank doesn't generally "say" much, if "Frank says", that's our cue that we need to listen.
#cat #communication #franksays #listen
The following is a statement of intent signed by me and many of my ADR colleagues. As "neutrals", we are declaring that we are not neutral on racism and declare ourselves as not impartial about this issue - not in our private lives, not in our work. The Statement isn't perfect, but it is a start with dialog and active engagement ongoing:
"We are conflict engagement practitioners – mediators, conflict coaches, negotiators, facilitators, convenors, dialogue coaches and more. We assist individuals, organizations and communities to engage with and deal more effectively with conflict.
Our collective experience has taught us that where injustice is embedded in the system that is experiencing the conflict, we cannot help bring about a more peaceful environment without addressing the injustice.
We stand with our brothers and sisters suffering the injustice and pain of racism, whether it was malicious or unintentionally caused. We stand with all people of color who live in a world made dangerous by racism. Black Lives Matter!
We call for an unprecedented effort to address inequity in our systems of governance, economy, housing, employment, healthcare… We also recognize that without disruption, systems of oppression will not change. No Justice No Peace!
We fervently hope for peace on our streets, but peace, real peace, meaningful peace, just peace, will only come when the systems of oppression that perpetuate the lethal injustice that killed George Floyd, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor and so many others are ended. We support those who disrupt the systems of injustice and we recognize that strategic disruption is necessary to achieve genuine change.
We will continue to stand with our brothers and sisters who are fighting for justice so that we can then all proudly hold the banner of More Justice, More Peace!"
Sunny E. Sassaman Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution Consultant