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Observation Point

In 2005 on the 2nd of February, my Father’s birth date, I discovered a crocus in bloom. February 2nd is Ground Hogs Day in the USA and many wait to see if Punxsutawney Phil, a ground hog, will see his shadow and prognosticate 6 more weeks of winter.

I grabbed my camera and took a picture.


Today I went looking to see what I could see. About 100 bulbs starting out of the ground,
4 Primroses were in bloom and 1 small snowdrop. I raced in and got my camera again to remember these first signs.

In being a good problem-solver one must be a good observer. What do you see happening? Just what you observe no emotions or explanations.

Although you might need to figure out and analyze the emotions involved in the future, it is first important to separate yourself from the problem. Observe the other person and their actions – acknowledge what they are saying and doing. Do not engage.

This moves the problem back onto them and assists you in not owning their anger.

Woman comes into store and says: “ I would like to return these towels?
Clerk says in a loud voice: “Lady, what is wrong with you? These are the finest towels I have in stock and you want to return them?”

Reply after enjoying the show! “When I asked to return the towels and you replied with ‘Lady what is wrong with you? These are my finest towels and why would I want to return them?”

That is a basic reply….observation.

In nonviolent communication one would then add the emotion and need to the conversation:
Woman says: “This seemed to make you very upset and worried. Do you need some reassurance that I will still shop at your store? Or that you will not be in conflict with your manager over this exchange.” (The shopper is making a guess here after studying – observing.)

Clerk says: “I just don’t know why you women buy things and return them and it cuts the stores profit margin, which is tight”

Woman, “Would you feel better if I said I came in to exchange them for another color as these were a gift and my friend did not pick an appropriate color for my room?”

This is a simple example and happened to a friend of mine. It shows that by good clean observation one cannot own the emotion and might even offer appreciation to someone who needs it.

Just as one can find joy in the discovery of a snowdrop or crocus in the middle of winter, it is wonder full to find a path to diffuse a conflict and respect yourself and the other in the process.

Observation without frills, one of the most overlooked tools of conflict resolution and discussing the hard things.

What do you think? Does it seem too hard to do? Let’s talk

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8 Responses to “Observation Point”

  1. Davina Says:

    Hi Patricia. It IS hard to do but so necessary to avoid creating conflict. I’ve found what works best for me is to confirm what I’m seeing. To reflect back to the other person what I’m hearing or seeing about what they are saying. It makes them feel seen and heard and diffuses the anger. It also helps me to avoid reacting right away.

    Davinas last blog post..I Lost My Introvert In A Crowd

  2. Dot Says:

    Observation is interesting and something that usually happens in a split second for me. My reaction to the rest of the situation is that it’s not my responsibility to meet this person’s unmet needs. It’s their responsibility to serve their customers. I’d probably ask to see their supervisor.

    Dots last blog post..Update on Redesign Progress

  3. Mark Says:

    You have provided a great example. Yes, first we must step outside our selves and become the detached observer, for it is then that we can see so much more than our narrow perspective. Great lesson, thanks for sharing.

    Marks last blog post..The Layer Man

  4. patricia Says:

    Davina, right on and such an important step, but very hard to do when it is a loved one or someone we wish to have more control over.

    In my sample example it was the store owner that my friend was talking to at that moment. Calling for a supervisor or manager too early can sometimes escalate the situation. Observing and hearing someone is very powerful. Thank you for your good comments they always add so much to the discussion.

    Thank you for your comments. I just read an article by a former statesmen and I was so aware that this fellow has zero capacity to be a detached observer – everything he said was “How dare you threaten me – the king of control” He was so confrontational and combative and so abusive to our new government leaders. I guess people wanted that kind of leadership, but I thought how scary…for all the citizens

  5. Diane Says:

    Hi Patricia,

    I’ve came over from Lance’s site, “A Jungle of Life” and his recent Smiles blog. I read your comment there and thought I wanted to see your writing here.

    I like this post here! It is quite wise indeed to observe and respond from a more peaceful grounded place. From a well informed position as best that one can be in any given moment.

  6. patricia Says:

    Welcome and thank you for coming over from Lance’s good smiling zone.

    I am working on sharing some problem solving wisdom I have learned from Dr. Marshall Rosenberg and his Nonviolent Compassionate Communications workshops…I just feel like folks could use some of this good stuff this time of the year!

  7. Jannie Funster Says:

    Any time “What’s wrong with you?” is directed at another human being I imagine the one hearing it goes into some kind of defense mode, and rightly so. It’s a pretty harsh way to speak.

    If the towels had a defect it would warrant looking at the problem, not create another one.

    Jannie Funsters last blog post..In a nutshell

  8. patricia Says:

    Oh so true, I was impressed my friend did not get defensive but just let the problem and the emotions belong to the manager.

    Let us not create more problems…too many right now already