Thanks, Dina, for your terrific presentation and for sharing your expertise at our meeting last week! You provided some excellent techniques for dealing effectively with co-workers.
I really appreciated the extra time you spent researching the specific needs of our group; it really helped everyone to relate to your presentation.
Vicky S. Briley, CPCU, CIC, AU
Education & Training Coordinator
John Burnham & Company
Home Office – San Diego, CA
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing on behalf of R&R Communications Consultant, Dina Robinson. I have used her in conflict resolution training and found her invaluable in developing skills in my students.
As a faculty member and independent consultant, I am always searching for resources to aid the development of courses in conflict resolution. Dina Robinson has proven to be an expert on conflict. Her extensive background provides an endless pool of knowledge and experience.
Knowledgeable consultants are relatively commonplace. Dina Robinson excels because of her ability to communicate effectively. The success of Dina’s programs rests on her skills as an interesting and informative speaker.
I have had the good fortune to use Dina Robinson for a variety of applications within my work in conflict resolution. I must give her an emphatic recommendation, as she has always been a tremendous asset to my programs.
Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any further assistance.
Russell D. Moore
San Diego State University
Department of Speech Communication
College of Professional Studies & Fine Arts
San Diego, CA 92182-0300
On behalf of the San Diego Chapter of the American Society of Training and Development, I would like to thank you for the outstanding presentation you gave to the members of our Diversity Network. It was obvious that your fellow members were intrigued with your every word as you shared your life experiences. Dina, you are a wonderful speaker with a powerful message. Thank you again for all your hard work.
Diversity Network Coordinator
San Diego Chapter – ASTD
American Society for Training & Development
Your presentation (“Breakthrough Communications”) provided our group with a fascinating new perspective on the connection between interpersonal and global relationships.
Additionally, your win-win “PeaceTalk™” technique and the idea that each one of us has the power and the responsibility to not only resolve our own personal conflicts in a civilized manner, but to help “trickle up” the process to our communities and the world, certainly motivated us to learn and practice these communication skills.
Thank you for your excellent contribution to our Sunupper program.
James W. Dyer, Program Chairman
Chamber of Commerce
San Diego, CA 92121
Q: My husband—I’ll call him “Matt”—and I have been married
12 years. Our three children are now 10, 7 and 4, and are pretty
active. Through all the ups and downs, the uproars and sleep
deprivation, we are a close and loving family.
The best part is that “Matt” and I have our own home-based
business, which allows us to pinch-hit for each other both in
parenting and work. Matt has the drive and I am the organizer.
We are both creative and brainstorm ideas all the time. We have
good friends and family members who take care of the kids when
we need to get away for a weekend now and then. Years ago we
realized how important it was to take breaks from each other, too.
So, at least once a month we take turns going on a “girls’/boys’
We are both happy with our work and family situation and agree
with our friends and family who keep telling us what a great setup
So why do Matt and I have so many fights? We are both puzzled—
not to mention upset and guilty. The fights come in clusters, but
their timing is not related to any stress or situation.
After each one, we realize we have been fighting about some stupid
little thing, and feel embarrassed. We have three different kinds of
fights: The worst kind is about money or each other’s family. The
most frustrating—and most frequent—happens when we actually
agree on whatever we are discussing, but express ourselves
differently. I understand Matt perfectly, but seem to describe the
issue in a way that it makes him feel not heard or misunderstood.
(Could it be because I am literal and linear in my thinking, and he
is more “digital” and mathematical?)
The most annoying fights we have happen when one of us is
irritated for no reason at all. Everything one of us says can set
the other off.
Although it takes me longer to reach my boiling point, Matt and
I share almost equal responsibility for starting or escalating fights.
I am writing because the increasing frequency of our fights is
beginning to make it more and more difficult for both of us to get
over them—even though we always kiss and make up. The more
often we fight, the longer it takes us to work the lingering anger
or resentment out of our systems. HELP!
Dear Suzie K.
Even though you take occasional breaks from the kids and each other, Matt and you are spending a lot of time together. This is a good thing. As long as you acknowledge that it’s hard—no, impossible!—to stay on one’s best behavior 24/7. We all need to relax now and then and let our bad habits out of their cage, to remind us that we’re just human.
There are, however, several things you can do to cut down on the frequency and intensity of your battles.
FIRST: Find out if there are some underlying problems that need to be addressed. The subconscious is a crowded place and unresolved issues can pop up as misdirected anger.
Start your detective work by understanding that anger does not rise out of the blue. It is actually a secondary emotion which is always triggered by a primary emotion—such as fear (or its cousin, anxiety), frustration, embarrassment (or shame, humiliation), hurt, guilt, etc.
So, dig deep, try some of these on and see if any of them match your feelings.
SECOND: If you discover that there is, indeed, a problem, it is best to arm yourself with effective communication skills before you discuss them with Matt or anyone else.
Let’s start by discarding a myth: Contrary to what you probably heard all your life, we cannot control our emotions. No one can. Here is our hierarchy of control:
a) We are able to control our thoughts (through self-talk).
b) Our thoughts control our emotions. (i.e. We can think—that is, self-talk—ourselves into or out of feeling a certain way.) There are no shortcuts. Only by stopping negative thoughts as soon as we become aware of them, and replacing them with more helpful ones, are we able to change our emotional state.
c) Our emotions, in turn, control our behavior. While we can make rational (thinking, logical) decisions to take certain actions, this can only be sustained for short periods. Lasting behavioral patterns are dictated by what we feel. Even rationalization is an emotion-driven mental activity, which has very little in common with rational thought processes.
d) In short, we direct (control) our thoughts (i.e. Suppose I have strong negative emotions about a coworker named Pat. I say to myself, “I refuse to spend all that energy hating Pat. Hating hurts me, since Pat doesn’t even know about it. Pat is just a person who doesn’t know any better. I am letting go of this awful feeling of hate.”). That changes my emotions, which in turn, changes the way I behave (no more gnashing of teeth whenever I see Pat).
Therefore, once you have identified the problem, think it through, make rational decisions about how to solve it. You decide where your thoughts go. When emotions try to interfere (“But he shouldn’t have forgotten my birthday. I feel hurt and I want to hurt him back.”), keep redirecting your thoughts until you come up with a way you could discuss the problem with Matt without blaming or otherwise hurting him. You’ll be surprised to find that if you put your thinking in charge, both of you will end up with warm and fuzzy feelings. It’s called a win-win solution.
THIRD: If you find no underlying problem, what needs to be addressed is the fact that you and Matt are using these fights as safety valves for daily stresses that are inherent in work, parenting, long-lasting routines and just everyday life. Unfortunately, there is nothing safe about such “safety valves.” In fact, you have fallen into the habit of using each other as punching bags on which (or whom) to take out your frustrations. That can damage—even destroy—a marriage.
Sometimes, couples who love each other and get along well, don’t even know that subconsciously they blame each other for being stuck in a rut—or anything else.
Just remember: Since the subconscious is NOT rational, neither of you is to blame.
FOURTH: Don’t wait. Make an appointment with your husband after work hours. Set aside at least two hours, and pencil in two more hours for the following day, just in case you need more time. Send the kids to the grandparents. Let the answering machine pick up the phone. Have the discussion before or after dinner (or lunch)—never during a meal. Too distracting and bad for the digestion.
(For more information about the win-win conflict resolution process, click on SERVICES and PRODUCTS and see my book “PEACETALK™–A Guide to Harmonious Relationships.” )