This can happen to anyone…

“I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, Mother, what was war?”

Eve Merriam

This is what war does to children…

Can’t stop thinking about children suffering from war in places of my childhood where I felt so happy and safe as a child.

Syria, Ukraine, Russia, BosniaAfghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya… – this can happen to anyone 😦

Sevenly

Image from pinterest.

ENDS

Who wants war?

http://www.theburningplatform.com//

It worked and still works the same…

 😦 

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Authentic Communication

From http://hr.toolbox.com

 Authentic communication is not always easy, but it is the basis of successful relationships at home and real effectiveness at work. Yet people constantly back away from honesty to protect themselves and others.

As Sheryl Sandberg points out, this reticence causes and perpetuates all kinds of problems: uncomfortable issues that never get addressed, resentment that builds, unfit managers who get promoted rather than fired, and on and on. Often these situations don’t improve because no one tells anyone what is really happening. We are so rarely brave enough to tell the truth…

From The Grumpy Poet

However, authentic communication is not simply about saying what we think at all costs. Communication works best when we combine appropriateness with authenticity, finding the sweet spot where opinions are not brutally honest but delicately honest. Speaking truth fully without hurting feelings comes naturally to some and is an acquired skill for others.

 From http://vinylzart.com

Communicaid identifies the following key elements of authentic communication:

  • Take responsibility for your communication and this means not only for what you say but also ensuring it has been fully understood.  You need to have ownership of the message and be responsible for any fall-out or negative response.
  • Be clear in your use of language so that you are not misinterpreted.  Avoid ambiguous language and technical or specialist jargon that may not be understood.
  • Tell the truth – make sure your facts are accurate and don’t make false promises or leave people to make assumptions that are misplaced.  Also be wary of not making promises that you will not be able to deliver on.
  • Don’t over-generalise or make sweeping statements such as, ‘Nobody thinks it’s a good idea’ or ‘This always happens’.
  • Work with the facts and be aware of the difference between your subjective opinions and the objective facts.  Avoid second guessing and making assumptions about what others are feeling, thinking or meaning.  If in doubt, ask for clarification.
  • Build a connection with the people you are communicating with.  Show them that you care and are interested in them.
  • Be consistent both in what you say but also how you follow up.  Your words should match your actions and you should always endeavour to do what you say you will do within the timeframe you have promised
  • Create mutual understanding by being prepared to share a little bit about yourself and by being curious about others.  Empathise with other perspectives and always try to imagine yourself in the others’ shoes.
  • Build your self-awareness and keep learning about yourself.  Be aware of your own judgements and prejudices and the obstacles that prevent you from communicating authentically.  Monitor your own negative responses and learn to manage your reactions to certain triggers.

From http://www.webbstar.net

In addition to creating better relationships, building trust, managing conflict more effectively and improving team spirit, authenticity helps to create happier, more self-confident and open individuals.

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Travelling in time on the old moped

( Russia, 1990s )

* * *Photo by Dimych

We stopped for lunch not far from Balagoe – a small township located half way from St Petersburg to Moscow.

“Take care. There are lots of Gipsies living in this area. Don’t stare at them, otherwise they might think that you are ‘challenging’ them. They are very hot-blooded and quick to grab their knives and axes. A young lad from St. Petersburg was killed here last  year,” – said Ivan, unpacking the bag with our lunch.

“Why?”

“Well, this is a long story. Gypsy lads are not allowed to touch Gipsy girls until they marry them. They still have a tradition of hanging out bloodstained sheets after the first night, you see. And gipsy girls are not allowed to bare their bodies in public, even arms and legs. Only their faces can be seen. However before Gipsy lads settle with Gipsy girls they like having fun with local Russian girls, who are perceived as easily accessible. Look at the way Russian girls are dressed, exposing everything they possibly can. They like getting male attention, don’t they? Unfortunately they are playing with fire. As the result, from time to time Gipsy lads get into troubles with local Russian guys.”

“Gosh, sounds more like a story about wild beasts rather than human beings. And it is only 300 kilometers from St. Petersburg!!!”

Ivan was just about to take the last sandwich from the bag, when I quickly grabbed it and took a big bite.

“Well, we were much wilder ‘beasts’ in the past too. A few generations ago the bride’s virginity was a matter of communal importance in Russia and, until it had been confirmed, either by the finger of the matchmaker or by the presence of bloodstains on the sheets, the honour of her household would remain in doubt.” He gave me a wink.

“Yuck! This fact has never been mentioned in our school textbooks! I bet cows were treated nicer in those days than girls. At least, cows did not have fingers poked into their private parts.”

“And at the wedding feast guests sometimes acted as witnesses to the bride’s deflowering” – continued Ivan.

“What?!” – a peace of sandwich stuck in my mouth. “Right, I see. You are telling me all of this only because you want to get hold of this sandwich, don’t you? Don’t even hope – no matter what our ancestors did in the past, I am going to finish this sandwich.” I bravely took another bite and inspected my shabby jeans and short-sleeved top.

“Would you mind to take your shirt off?”

“Why?”

“Come on, take it off. Believe me, Gipsy lads won’t get into fight with me over your beautiful arms,” I put Ivan’s shirt on.

“Can I borrow your cap as well?”

“Go for it.”

I tucked my long hair under Ivan’s cap.

“Can I have a go at the steering wheel now?”

“Are you sure?” Ivan did not seem to trust my driving skills.

“Not, but just want to get a taste of it. Please.”

“All right. Just a little bit.”

We packed our bags and hopped onto Ivan’s moped. We did not get far, when suddenly the front wheel skidded and we both flew into the air.

“Ouch”, – something hot touched my leg.

“How are you?” – asked Ivan.

“Fine,” – I slowly got up off the ground, checking my bruised body.

“Look what you’ve done?” – Ivan was almost crying, inspecting his moped. I managed to pull out every single wire on it.

“And what on earth happened to you? Why did you drive it right into this heap of sand in the middle of the road?”

“I could not see it.”

“Why could not you see it?”

“Because I did not have my glasses on?”

“Where are your glasses then?”

“In my bag?”

“Why are they in your bag?”

“They did not look good with my new outfit.”

“What?” – Ivan gasped in disbelief.

“They did not look good with that cap.” …

( Photo by Sfa )

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The power of constructive disagreement

Untitled-1
From Saving Your Team with Constructive Dissension

Disagreement is a precious resource in learning, judgment and decision-making. Often people avoid openly expressing disagreement in a fear of offending others or as the result of the peer or team pressure. That neglect of disagreement results in the failure to benefit from the constructive forces of disagreement, including:

1. Improved communication:

  • Clarification and greater understanding of ideas
  • Increased retention of relevant information
  • Increased use of critical thinking skills

From http://howtobeaspeaker.com

2. More productive teamwork:

  • Stimulation of interest and involvement
  • Stronger working relationships and cooperation
  • Increased interest and motivation for problem solving
  • Increased understanding of self and others
  • Increased group interaction, trust and cohesiveness
  • Enhanced awareness of problems in group functioning
  • Changes can be made before the group is impaired
  • Decreased tension, frustration
  • Higher levels of morale and satisfaction
  • Decreased likelihood of acting out negative feelings indirectly

From http://www.ummaland.com

3. Better Quality decisions and problem solutions:

  • More creative ideas
  • More decision alternatives
  • More time spent thinking through decisions

From http://leadershipforlearning.wordpress.com

Conflict is often the first step for getting rid of outdated procedures, revising regulations, changing organisational culture, fostering innovation and creativity. Addressing rather than suppressing conflict opens the lines of communication, gets people talking to each other (instead of about each other)  and makes people feel like they’re part of a team that cares. As a result, people learn how to work harmoniously, come up with creative solutions and reach outcomes that benefit everyone involved.

From http://www.joegerstandt.com

However many of us are programmed to avoid conflict or do not know how to handle disagreement in a constructive way. So we have quiet, reserved, polite workplaces, but there is a whole bunch of “stuff” simmering below the surface. We cannot be honest and disagree with each other. We sit around the conference table and nod our heads up and down, and then after the meeting we tell the truth to a smaller group of peers with whom we actually feel comfortable being honest.

From http://www.fundable.com

Below are some ideas to help your team learn to voice dissenting opinions and resolve disagreements in a constructive way:

  1. Raise awareness: Let members know that disagreement can be healthy and that the team encourages constructive tension. This will help set the stage and encourage more “voices” to come forward.
  2. Value listening: Draft listening as a core value of the team. Ultimately, we cannot learn from dissension if our hearts and minds are not really open to the conversation.
  3. Respect always rules: Constructive dissension boils down to team members offering respect to their colleagues. When this principle is ignored, any level of disagreement can quickly become unhealthy. If you have any sense of being on shaky ground after engaging in an intellectual battle with someone, patch that rift with kind words, support and willingness to listen. You may have to retreat for a while until things cool down, but you must let the other person know that you still respect and admire them.
  4. Encourage dissenting opinions: Teach team members how to disagree diplomatically. Many individuals may want to disagree, yet are not sure how to avoid “causing trouble”. Offer ways to speak up by suggesting healthy “templates” or a “scripts” to do so.
  5. Pose alternatives: If they find fault with an idea or strategy — be sure that team members attempt to offer an improved version or alternative solution. Constructive criticism is always preferred.
  6. Deal with dyad issues: If two members seem to be experiencing personal conflict, ensure this does not play out during team meetings. Encourage a dialogue to resolve core issues outside of the team and contain “toxic spills” rooted in personal issues.
  7. Focus on solutions, not the “win”: Ultimately, one single idea does not have to “win” — and this can help take the pressure out of collaboration. Masters of innovation such as Pixar, combine the ideas of many contributors to formulate solutions. In this way being honest and open, won’t take sway from another team member’s work.

 
From http://www.madofficehero.com

The same rules apply to handling disagreement within the family: never stop caring and listening no matter how angry you are.

Love is caring for each other even when you're angryFrom Pinterest

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Resources:

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Dust If You Must…

Dust if you must
From http://myhoneysplace.com

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better,
To paint a picture or write a letter,
Bake a cake or plant a seed,
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,
With rivers to swim and mountains to climb,
Music to hear and books to read,
Friends to cherish and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
With the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair,
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain.
This day will not come ’round again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it’s not always kind.
And when you go and go you must,
You, yourself, will make more dust.

From Inspiration Peak

Family playing outdoorsFrom Making Family Bonding a Priority

* * *

I grew up under the despotic rule of cleanies. Everything was supposed to be pristine, tidy and clean 24 hours a day 7 days a week just in case a neighbour or a friend would come for a visit unexpectedly. There was no time or space left for life, smiles or laughter. Everything was completely cleaned out. Expected unexpected neighbours and visitors never came either…

Don’t feel sad, woman from the 1950s! TaskEasy will clean your house for you!From Pinterest

The family I got married into turned out to be completely opposite. It was full of characters, as clearly reflected in their houses.

Messy house

http://www.pinterest.com/

It did not take long for me to realise that the only way of keeping the house clean was by banning from entering the house anybody genetically related to that side of the family (including my own children). Hm, that was not a good solution, was it?

I have discovered the secret to a clean house - never allow your husband or children to enter it!  Xtreme Services Cleaning & Restoration in Shelby Township, MI can help you with all of your household and commercial needs!  Give us a call at (586) 477-9496 to schedule an appointment or visit our website www.xtreme-servicesinc.com for more information!

http://www.pinterest.com/

After a while we worked out the threshold of messiness that our family can tolerate with the whole family sharing efforts in keeping the house somewhere above that threshold. Our house is clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy, with lots of games, giggles and fun. 🙂

My house is clean enough  to be healthy and  dirty enough  to be happy.
From http://www.rottenecards.com

If you have some super neat freaks in your family, give them a hug and point out to them that:

  • Alexander Fleming was teased by colleagues for his disorderly desk. He kept everything – notes, slides, test tubes – in case he had a new idea or noticed a change. He was clearing his desk in 1928 when a dot of mould in an old petri dish led to his discovery of penicillin. May be, your clutter will lead to a world-changing discovery too?
    😉
  • a study by researchers at Columbia Business School found that people who kept a neat desk spent 36 per cent more time looking for things than people who kept a “fairly messy” desk. Filing and retrieving things from files takes precious time.
    😉
  • Albert Einsteins’s untamed hair signified his attitude to neatness. “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?” he declared.
    😉

[Einstein.bmp]From http://bp1.blogger.com/

But look at tidy people in history and who do you see? Dictators, secret policemen and oppressors. Hitler was known for his love of neatness and order; Mussolini kept an immaculately tidy desk. Saddam Hussein’s guards have told of the former Iraqi dictator’s obsession with cleanliness – he washed his hands after every handshake.

Besides, what if burglars break into your house? Surely, you would not want to make it too easy for them. 😉

My house isn't messy. Those are just obstacles I've put in place for any burglars that try to break in.

http://www.pinterest.com

A good obstacle course might also help your family to stay fit 😉

Funny Family Ecard: Our house is not messy, we just like obstacle courses.
From http://www.someecards.com/

Last but not least, if your super-freaky-neat-in-laws come for a visit, reassure them that your house was super-freaky-neatly clean… last week. It is such a pity that they missed it 😉

From pinterest

If you are a neat freak living in a messy household, don’t despair. Ignoring the problem won’t work.  You’ll need to face it honestly, but respectfully.

Instead of constantly nagging about everything that needs to be done, identify the chores that are most important to you. For example, if you are most concerned with the living room looking presentable, ask for your spouse’s help in keeping the room clear of shoes, clothes, junk mail, etc. Don’t forget to explain why 😉

Go easy on yourself and your family. Take an objective step back and ask if your average guest would really notice that the baseboards haven’t been dusted recently.

Don’t forget to enjoy life. Allow yourself to relax with your spouse or get out and do something fun. Looking back on their younger years, few people will say, “If only I had spent more time cleaning.” 😉

And don’t worry if you never have that amazing feeling when you got to bed knowing your entire house is super-clean. Neither do I 😉

From http://www.faithfilledfoodformoms.com

Resources:

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A prayer for Ukraine

Family2 

My grandma was Ukrainian. My granddad was Russian. They lived happily in Ukraine all their life and are now both resting in peace next to each other…

What is happening in Ukraine now is not as simple as a pro-Western faction of residents protesting a unilateral decision to pull away from deeper EU integration made by a democratically elected government. There’s much more to the story.

While a few experts are trying to put the story straight in Ukraine from the geopolitical perspective, propaganda machines is busily working on all sides, manipulating public perception. Similar to the media coverage of the conflict in Afghanistan in 1984-1986 , the story gets twisted by the media machines in support of a certain agenda.

Media

From When the Media Chooses the Side

As Neil Clark points out in his article Ukraine & EU: Why some protestors are more equal than others, “leading western media outlets have not only have deemed the protests to be a major story, but their reporting makes it quite clear whose side they are on….It’s revealing to compare the highly sympathetic, high profile western coverage of the Ukrainian protests with the way other protests have been covered in recent years… Generally speaking, we can say that if the protests are against a government the western elites don’t like or it’s a cause they support… then they will receive extensive coverage. Not only that, but the protest will be reported in a very positive way, even if violence is used by the protesters… “, while if similar violence is used by protesters in Western countries they will be “condemned as ‘thugs’ and ‘criminals’”.

Maidan1
From Getting the Story Straight in Ukraine

Russian media on the other hand is focusing all attention on the most controversial element of the anti-government alliance in Ukraine – Svoboda, an extreme right-wing political party that has representation in Ukrainian parliament and is widely known for its neo-Nazi views. Its leaders are included on the top ten list of most active anti-Semites of the world for their calls to fight with “goat-likes [Russians] and kikes [Jewish].”

Svoboda_Logo

The history of the radical nationalist movement in Ukraine is very long.  The radical nationalist organization under the leadership of Stepan Bandera actively cooperated with Hitler’s troops during the war, fighting against Jews, Russians and Poles.

Sergey Kirichuk, a member of the group Borotba, which publishes and anti-fascist magazine in Ukraine, told Channel 4 News that these neo-Nazis are the most violent elements on the streets. “They are the ones throwing molotovs and trying to kill policemen… Svoboda are leading ideologically now. Fascism is like a fashion now, with more and more people getting involved.”

What about people? Ordinary people like my uncles, aunties, cousins, nieces and nephews? They can only hope that their beautiful country won’t turn into a Hell on Earth. 😦

Let’s pray for the safety and well-being of all hard-working peaceful people in Ukraine – for dear Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, Poles and all the other people living in that beautiful land. Pray with us too, dear grandma and granddad, from your resting place to keep peace.

Pray
From Please Pray for Ukraine

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Don’t let me be misunderstood…

Communication
From Risk Communication

All communication has two parts: a sender and a receiver. The sender has a message he or she intends to transmit, and she puts it in words which, to her, best reflect what she is thinking. But many things can intervene to prevent the intended message from being received.

If the communication is verbal, tone of voice can influence interpretation. Nonverbal cues also are important. Is the sender’s posture open and friendly, or closed and cold? Is her facial expression friendly or accusatory? All of these factors influence how the same words will be received.

In addition to how the message is sent, many additional factors determine how the message is interpreted by the receiver. All new information we learn is compared with the knowledge we already have. If it confirms what we already know, we will likely receive the new information accurately, though we may pay little attention to it. If it disputes our previous assumptions or interpretation of the situation, we may distort it in our mind so that it is made to fit our world view, or we may dismiss the information as deceptive, misguided, or simply wrong.

If the message is ambiguous, the receiver is especially likely to clarify it for herself in a way which corresponds with her expectations. Our expectations, based on our life experiences, work as blinders or filters that distort what we see so that it fits our preconceived images of the world.

Cartoon
From Perception is Reality

Below are a few tips for resolving misunderstandings and overcoming communication barriers:

1. Use ‘I’-statements

‘You-statements’ put people on the defensive and often lead to a hostile response. On the other hand, ‘I-statements’ have the opposite effect. For example, ‘I feel disappointed that you cancelled at the last minute’ rather than ‘You’ve let me down again’.

2. Clearly express how you feel

Mind-reading and assuming that others know what you want can create all sorts of problems. When you hint rather than make a clear statement, people don’t always get the message. Similarly, when you ramble on rather than state your thoughts clearly, people may not get the message. So, if there is something that you need to say it’s helpful to tell it as it is – don’t hint.

3. Do it now

If there’s an issue you need to raise or a situation that needs to be resolved, try to deal with it as soon as possible. The longer you leave it, the harder it gets, and the more tension builds up. The only exception to this rule is if you feel very angry, and you can’t trust yourself to stay calm when you talk about it. In this situation, it’s often a good idea to have a cooling off period before you raise the issue. Doing this prevents conflict and reduces the likelihood that you’ll say things you’ll regret. Take as long as you need.

4. Ask for clarification

Just as people can’t always read your mind, sometimes it is difficult to interpret what someone else is thinking or feeling. If you’re confused about the message you’re receiving, the best thing to do is check it out with the other person. Asking for clarification helps to prevent misunderstandings.

For example, a friend seems withdrawn and you suspect they are angry with you. You say: ‘You seem quiet – have I done something to upset you?’ or ‘Is everything OK?’ Checking it out with them can help bring the issue to the surface (if there is one), then you can talk about it.

On the other hand, if there is actually nothing wrong, talking about it will ease your concerns.

5. Acknowledge your discomfort in raising an issue

If you feel uncomfortable raising a particular issue, it can be helpful to let the other person know this, for example: ‘Look Sam I feel really awkward about bringing this up but…’ or ‘Alex, I need to talk to you about something and I’m feeling nervous about it. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but if I don’t say anything, I think I’ll continue to feel upset.’

By honestly referring to your discomfort, you lower the temperature, reducing the likelihood that the other person will become hostile or defensive.

6. Be aware of your body language

The way you speak – including the volume and tone of your voice, your physical gestures, and facial expressions, all have an important impact on how your message will be received. If you fold your arms in front of your chest, have a stern expression on your face or speak in an accusing tone, the other person is likely to feel defensive even before they have heard what you have to say.

On the other hand, an open posture, a calm voice, and relaxed body language helps the other person to feel at ease. This allows your message to be delivered in a non-threatening way. Here’s an acronym that might help you remember good body language:

S – face the person Squarely

O – Open Posture, no crossed arms or fidgeting

L – Lean towards the person, not too much but just enough to show interest

E – maintain Eye contact, without staring

R – be Relaxed, don’t fidget and be comfortable

7. Communicate positive feelings

Developing good relationships means being able to express positive feelings at times. We often assume that people know that we like them or appreciate what they do for us, so we don’t tell them. However, people aren’t mind-readers. If we don’t tell them they don’t always know (even if they do know, it’s still nice to hear someone say nice things every now and then!)

Communicating positive feelings towards others lets them know that we value them and helps to strengthen relationships. Warm feelings can be expressed as a whole message. For example: ‘Jo, the other day when I was upset you asked me if I was OK. It was really good to talk to you. I just wanted to say thanks – you’ve been a good friend.’

8. Over to practicing these points

Hope these tips will help all of us to resolve problems and disagreements in a reasonable and helpful way.

Based on the following resources:

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