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Why Bother with Yellow Flowers When You Really Want a Turtle?

Meredith Mediates by Meredith Richardson

“Would you take me to go look at the yellow flowers?”

 

It seems like a simple request, but it was, in fact, perfectly tailored to meet both my nephew’s needs and his in the moment.

I was visiting my family.  My mother had suggested that I go look at the yellow flowers in her garden and I brought my two-year-old nephew along with me to see them.

He spent less than 30 seconds looking at the yellow flowers.  What caught his eye was the ceramic turtle nearby.  While I checked out the flowers, he happily played with the turtle.  Then, while I waited, he continued to play with the turtle.  Finally, after a bit, I brought him back inside where the rest of the adults were.

We adults resumed our conversation, which was not very exciting for a two-year-old boy.

“Aunt Meredith,” he asked, “would you take me to go look at the yellow flowers?”

Time stopped for a second, at least on my end, as I processed this request.

“I don’t think you want to go see the yellow flowers,” I said.  “I think you want to see the turtle.”

“Yes!” He beamed.  “Would you take me to see the turtle?”

My nephew is two and he can create a win-win situation and sell it to me as being all about me.

I’m not asking you to go that far.  I think it’s better to be transparent and tell the person how the proposed solution could benefit everyone involved.

Still, he is only 2.  And we were able to have a conversation where we each saw and spoke about the benefit that the other person could get out of the same event.

When we are in conflict, we can lose sight of anything other than what we want.  We can’t see what the other person wants and we don’t care what the other person wants.  We get tunnel vision.

When you find yourself getting tunnel vision, when all you want to do is focus on is the turtle, take a step back and look for a way to meet both your needs and the needs of the other person.  Look for the turtle AND the yellow flowers. 

                        author

Meredith Richardson

Meredith Richardson, Esq., CPC, helps people and organizations to successfully navigate conflict through mediation, conflict coaching, and training.  Though she was trained and worked as an attorney in ME, NH, and MA, she no longer self-identifies as a lawyer.  She helps people to have difficult conversations successfully. Meredith is well-respected… MORE >

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