Like death and taxes, conflict is a reality in life, be it in our personal lives with partners, with friends, with families and with work colleagues.
It causes untold stress, unhappiness, resentment and fear as it fractures peace of mind, spirit and relationships and has a terrible impact on one’s quality of life.
As Easter holidays arrive for thousands of parents and children, so too does the increase in familial and workplace conflicts, so in this article, Cork mediation expert and lecturer, Sharon Morrissey, founder of Conflict Clarity, shares some advice.
Clear communication is the key to resolving issues that can cause bitterness and division.
While the Easter holidays are a very welcome respite from the daily hustle and bustle of life, planning is actually needed in a bid to make the absolute best of the time off and to try and ensure that miscommunication does not spoil this precious time.
Parents and guardians who work full-time have to plan for school holidays and how these are covered.
The options vary from parental leave, to annual leave, to school camps, to perhaps involving grandparents who may like to be involved in some family events, to booking the breakaway, to negotiating one parent taking half the time and the other (depending on relationship circumstances) taking the other half.
And, of course, the friendship child-share, as I refer to it which, is “I’ll take yours if you take mine”.
Managing expectations is crucial as everybody has different perceptions of what to expect, and again that is why communicating this is so important.
For this Easter, I offer some tips and strategies that are from a mix of personal and professional experiences and learning. There is nothing here that innately we do not know.
To begin, find a quiet space with an old-fashioned pen and paper, and a calendar printout for the couple of weeks of the Easter hols.
All of this will naturally be age/stage-dependent and appropriate.
Tips for surviving familial and workplace conflicts during holiday periods.
The first question to ask the self in the quiet is.
- What do I want to do? (Do I want to be home with my family? Do I want to spend some time with them and some time catching up with work?)
- If I am a hybrid worker, how feasible will it be to attempt to continue working at a scheduled pace?
- Do I have support? Do I have somebody to go to that if it becomes too much on any given day?
- Have I checked the schedule of work to be completed for my workplace?
- Do the children have access to the non-resident parent/ extended family?
- What are my time schedules, and what is necessary on the to-do list?
- What are the expectations of the children?
- What funds do I have to do activities/day trips with the children?
- Do we have a holiday organised and paid for? What activities will they wish to do, and what funds are necessary for this?
When you are clear about these questions, it is time to begin the collaboration process with your partner, employer, and family.
Together, open a frank dialogue with all people involved.
- How many days can I take off work? How many days can my partner take off work? Do we have a couple of overlapping days?
- What are our funds like? Can we, as a family, make a list of fun and cool non-expensive things to do?
- Is there time for individual, couple, and family time?
- Decide on the days, and with the children, make a plan; Baking, cooking a meal, and getting dressed up; pretend to be at a restaurant, and parents will wait at the table, for example. This is so much fun, and kids love it.
- Cinema date or cosy duvet day?
- Pack a picnic and have a cycling greenway day.
- Take a trip to the beach (wrap up/down) as necessary.
- Can I schedule a couple of hours for myself and my partner to do the same?
- Can we calmly communicate? Can we listen to hear and not respond?
- Can we attempt to distance ourselves from the angry outbursts and not take any of this personally?
For any type of conflict, communication is key, and the secret to this is we keep communicating.
Communication is easy when all is going well. And for certain, it becomes more difficult when we are in conflict.
Taking those moments to steady ourselves, at the beginning of every day and when we become triggered is the best antidote to conflict.
And even if conflict spills over, be mindful; – mediate internally. What do I want the outcome to be? We have to remember that we do not have to engage in conflict – As the saying goes, “We do not have to attend every party we are invited to”.
My chosen career path as a professional mediator has helped me enormously in my own personal life.
Finding mediation has helped me understand and manage internal conflicts, large and small.
The process of mediation has had a positive impact on all of my relationships, including the relationship I have with myself.
This is arguably the most important relationship we all have, and if we get that right, all else flows from that.
For me, the process of mediation is a game changer. It puts structure to the unstructured internal (individual), internal (management), internal (organisational) conflicts and how these conflicts inflict or enforce further conflicts in our lives.
The process of mediation facilitates self-determining outcomes for all involved in a very practical way. I am delighted to say that in the way I work with people, the success rate is 93%.
Communication is the key to conflict management. I would love to see this as a key school subject.
About the author:
Accredited mediator and conflict resolution expert, Sharon Morrissey, founded ‘Conflict Clarity’, a private mediation practice to support individuals, families, and groups, including personal friendship groups and professional sporting groups, as they navigate tricky interpersonal workplace and end-of-life conflicts.
She provides conflict management coaching to businesses and families where people work through their relationship difficulties and progress in a fruitful manner into the future.
As there are no predetermined outcomes in mediation, it is for the people involved to arrive at their own outcomes; therefore, reconciliation is a possibility.
Sharon specialises in workplace and end-of-life conflicts, as well as
- Individual conflict;
- Family conflict;
- Professional relationships;
- Workplace conflict;
- End-of-life mediation.
She is the holder of a Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution from St. Angela’s College Sligo and NUIG.
Sharon has a PG Cert in Mediation and Conflict Resolution, Family Mediation Qualification and Child Inclusive and Focused Mediation Qualification.
Her primary degree is in applied social care (National Diploma in Applied Social Care, 1996)
Fully ASIST and Living Works trained while also having child protection training and Garda vetting.
She has a current Teaching Council Qualification and is accredited by the Mediators Institute of Ireland and the International Mediation Institute.
Sharon has some 25 years’ of experience working in Early Childhood Education and Family Support within disadvantaged areas.
She specialises as a facilitator for various groups, including parenting positively, parenting and co-parenting groups in separation, and multi-agency facilitation.
She has extensive experience, having worked with public and private agencies and businesses.
Sharon has been employed in lecturing, training and facilitation roles on the following modules:
- Mediation theory and practice;
- Understanding conflict;
- Family mediation;
- Mediation ethics and regulatory framework;
- Supervision of master’s dissertation students;
- Child and vulnerable adult protection;
- Self-Awareness and mediation and conflict resolution.
Sharon is the author of the book, That’s Not My Ending!, which is written from the point of view of children she has worked with for over twenty years.
It examines how children try to explain to their adults how the changing family affects them all.