My mother has the most obnoxious barking dog. The dog barks nonstop at a high pitch. It’s impossible to have a conversation with her in person or on the phone. I know she loves the dog, but what can I do? I want to have my mom talks back! – Leesa in Bar Harbor, Maine
Throughout our lives we will find occasions when we are in conflict with others, including our loved ones. Navigating the emotional turmoil can be difficult, but there are recognized methods to manage these situations. There are three parts on the journey towards acceptance and resolution: perspective, dialogue, and balance.
“You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” While we do not know who first said these empathetic words, they remain a golden truth. It’s about gaining perspective. In the case of the obnoxious dog, you must approach this through your mother’s viewpoint.
Consider her emotional ties and reliance with her dog. How does her dog make her feel? What joy does it bring to her? How does the dog help her day to day? You must push aside your own emotions and prejudices to understand your mom’s mindset.
My mom has a dog that barks nonstop, along with crazed jumping and constant nipping. Like you, I find it impossible to have a conversation of any substance over the dog barking. Yet I knew what a comfort she was to my mom, and to my dad when he was alive. Even near the end, my dad’s face would light up when he had the dog on his lap.
Holding that memory helped me frame questions to my mom to better understand her perspective. I learned how the dog provided her solace during her grieving. The dog was a very real connection with my dad, her constant companion during a dark time. This context was integral to tempering my inclinations.
Understanding the perception of your loved one enables you to have a healthy and open dialogue about the situation. It guides your approach. Without this awareness, your emotional reactions could dissolve into fight, flight, or freeze. Instead, you can seek a mutually beneficial outcome.
Using my own experience as an example, I initiated the conversation with my mom by acknowledging how important the dog was. There were several genuine compliments and attributes I could share about the dog. Then I asked if she had any ideas on how we could talk without the barking. I let her know how important it was to me to clearly hear what she had to say.
Framing your dialogue with the perception you have acquired helps you find balance, and a win-win for your loved one and yourself. It’s not about one person being right or wrong. Rather, it’s important to discover middle ground and satisfaction for everyone. This is the destination you want to reach so you can open the next door in your relationship.
The technique of gaining perspective, carrying out a dialogue, and establishing balance will help you successful navigate difficult situations. It’s founded in respect and empathy. Remember, every destination is a doorway to another. You will build stronger lasting relationships when you embrace this method of managing interpersonal conflict.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.