Being Transparent in Conflict

Let us, for a moment, reflect on how friendships grow in intimacy.  The more of ourselves we reveal to another, the more we develop intimacy.  A close friend may intuit what I feel or desire, but if I am hesitant to express my feelings or desires to him or her, we have a problem of intimacy.  The issue is one of trust and transparency.  Intimacy requires growing transparency,  I let go of some of my defenses in order to let the other see me as I am.

In human relationships we often add riders to our requests, but our purpose to make sure that the other does not feel coerced.  Thus, I might want to spend some time with a friend; at the same time I do not want him to feel obliged to take the time.  I want him to WANT to be with me.  In other words, I’m not sure a) that my friend is free, and/or b) that he will be honest with me if he does not want to spend time right now, and/or c) that he wants to be with me as much as I want to be with him, and/or d) that I really want to be with him.

We can all recognize how convoluted communication can get under these circumstances.  Friendship can suffer as a result.  The same is true in our marriages.   We think we have so much more intimacy in our marriages because sex is added to the mix.  However, our communication can and often does get just as convoluted because we fail to grow in intimacy.  Intimacy requires work, a commitment that each and every day rises to the occasion of being transparent, open, expressing your real feelings without defense or guilt or other layers of muck to cover your own insecurities.  Then, after overcoming that hurdle,  risking rejection, misunderstanding, and uncertainty from your partner.  I say this must happen everyday because the day you don’t do it, a little bit of mistrust grows or a little bit of shame grows or a little bit of space grows between you and your partner and left unchecked for too long – and that could be not as long as you think – and suddenly one of you is somewhere else completely in your head, in your life, in your marriage.

This intimacy is necessary in conflict as well and we as facilitators and mediators try and bring that out because that is the only real way to deal with the conflict.  Can you see that sometimes, on your own, you cannot reach into that well of honesty and transparency because of fear or the chance – sometimes the very real chance – of “losing” something you think you cannot lose.  In a facilitated meeting, for example, we help the parties tap into the real expressions of needs so that the real needs are on the table for all involved.  Once everyone knows what the real needs are – right there, naked and exposed – dynamics can change and people can relate to their own vulnerability because the other’s is right there exposed as well.  It is a leavening agent and it balances the power in the room so that one party is not holding the cards anymore.  All needs are valued and evaluated in terms of being met.

This is one way in which facilitation and mediation can bring about win/win situations and this is one reason why with litigation and adversarial tactics there are usually two losers.

Block quote taken from Discernment in Prayer Paying Attention to God by William A. Barry, SJ , This is a wonderful book taking you on a journey of really growing in intimacy in prayer.  Too often people pray unconsciously.  This book teaches conscious prayer and wakes you up to having a real relationship with God and not some abstract relationship based on concepts or theology.  He helps you apply the concepts you know or dont know to a conscious relationship with God.  Check it out.