Non-Negotiables & Conflict

Today, I wanted to provide my friend Debby's other two questions she had for me as they relate to points I make in my book. I made this decision, because now more than ever, we are navigating through the most productive ways to find – and use - our voice in a more meaningful way.

Everyone has bad days. No one is perfect. How do we incorporate grace into our commitment to be the guardians of the energy we allow into our space? How do we show respect for ourselves while also respecting others?

I believe that everyone has to answer these questions for themselves.

Debby: I love that you talk about non-negotiables in your book. I unfortunately figured out my non-negotiables after going through a divorce. How do you recommend people discern between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors/habits/challenges?

My value system is what determines my non-negotiables. I will not be in a relationship with people who lack compassion or kindness. Nor will I tolerate racist, bigoted, or misogynistic behavior. If you disregard the dignity and humanity of others, I will sever ties with you. I also refuse to tolerate abuse in any form. As children, we are too vulnerable to defend ourselves against people who bully, abuse, or exploit us. As a middle-aged woman, I have worked hard to take back any power I ever lost to these types of people.

There is someone in my extended family who I am very close to and who I love very much. Unfortunately, when this person drinks, they are verbally abusive. I have had a pattern of getting upset, not speaking to them for a few days (or weeks), and ultimately sweeping their bad behavior under the rug. One day, after a particularly harsh interaction, I had an a-ha moment. I thought to myself, “If Jimmy (my husband) ever spoke to me that way, I would leave him. My husband is my favorite human being – my absolute soul mate, and in that moment, he became my channel marker for my non-negotiables. I said, "never again" to the one person who I still tolerated abuse from by understanding that I would not tolerate it from the person with the longest history of loving and caring for me.

Debby: You say on page 37 that “…conflict is sometimes a good thing. Despite my BAT (bad attitude type), some of the conflicts I have had due to perceived injustices have provided me the clarity of what is and is not acceptable to my core values.” Can you provide any insights or suggestions on how to navigate through conflict well?

1. Find your voice. For anything good or healthy to come out of a conflict, both parties need a voice. If you never express your views, I recommend you evaluate the health of the relationship. It could be the relationship you have with your significant other, your boss, a parent, a child, or a friend.

2. Choose your battles. Save the fight for the things that truly matter. If every conflict is about personal annoyances, pet peeves, and bad attitudes, you may be at risk of destroying a meaningful relationship. I think about the early days of my marriage. Things were so much more volatile in our relationship as we navigated through personal preferences, parenting, finances, running a house, and creating a home. It's essential to understand the difference between values and feelings that are worth a conflict versus you wanting your way. Ask yourself, will this matter in six months?

3. Listen. We spend way more time defending our position than we do genuinely listening to the other person. There is so much love and respect to be found in listening to someone and sincerely hearing what they are telling you.

4. Don't tell someone else what they're feeling, how they should feel, or to justify their feelings. There could be a long list of reasons why people feel the way they do. We are not always privy to the stories or challenges of another person. There is also a chance that their feelings are the consequence of their insecurities or deep-seated pain. Every person's opinions, beliefs, and attitudes are a result of their unique experiences in life. Promote vulnerability and honesty over your agenda.

5. Don’t make the other person your emotional punching bag. Sometimes we take out our insecurities, frustrations, and hurt on the people we love the most. The right people want you to feel worthy, empowered, and safe. Trust their intentions. Making someone else feel small will never bring you peace.

As I answered these questions, I felt the urge to add the caveat of grace. Every relationship consists of imperfect people. At any moment, people can be unkind, impatient, or inconsiderate. The moment we begin to expect perfection from the people joining us in our journey through life, we risk losing the extraordinary experience of meaningful connections. The business of being human can be quite messy – and quite complicated. But the "right" people, the kind people, the ones who love and care for us, are worth it.

To learn more about Debby, please check her out at

Choose happy.

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