Re: advice on resolving conflicts
From: sharon (
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 2010 06:37:33 -0800 (PST)
On Thu, 4 Mar 2010 04:16:57 -0800 (PST), Mark Harfenist
<markharf [at]> wrote:
> The tendency is for the same or similar problems to arise again and
> in different forms, often embodied in different people, since they are
> expressions of systematic issues, human nature, or random probability. 
> other words, even if the person in question leaves the community,
> else will mysteriously step forward to play the same role.

Years ago, before I even heard of systems theory, I met a woman who was in
charge of a non-profit program related to mental health. She said they had
come to the conclusion that this was true and had stopped either firing
people or doing individual counseling when there was tension or perceived
inadequacy. It had calmed down the office and taught everyone to deal with
conflicts as systems, not individual personality issues.

I'm not trying to trivialize the problem that first raised this thread,
but it triggers a memory of another story. In one of my dentist's offices,
they designated one person to be responsible for all the problems that
week. If it was Mary's week, she wsa responsible for all the empty tissue
boxes, missing equipment, telephones going out, the weather, cranky
patients, late appointments, etc.

It worked brilliantly. It gave everyone the opportunity to let off steam,
while at the same time making complaining funny. It allowed people to raise
irritations in a non-threatening way because the person they were raising
them to rarely had anything to do with them. And people could see that one
can find irritations anywhere because they would find irritations in order
to complain and set off laughter again.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing

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