We have discovered a couple of great little books written by David Niven, Ph.d. entitled “The 100 simple secrets of Happy People” and “The 100 simple secrets of Happy Families”. The most interesting thing about these “secrets” is that they are all based on research. We will post a weekly tip at the ranch and here for you to consider…
It’s Better to Be Fair Than Right
There will always be disagreements between people, which means there will always be disagreements within families. What should your top priority be in dealing with family conflict? Always coming up with the right answer sounds good. But it’s a practical impossibility since often the conflict is a matter of perspectives, not facts. Instead, the top priority should be to be fair – listen to everyone involved and to think about things from each person’s perspective.
Empathy, the ability to see things from someone else’s point of view, is often damaged when living with pain, fear or confusion. In our work with the horses, we help our clients reconnect with the ability to empathize by teaching them about horse and herd behavior, “let’s think about how your horse might see the (horse eating!) trash can.” In this way, they can slowly rebuild this important emotional skill.
Another way this comes into play with horses is that we may have to explain to a client “just because your horse isn’t doing what you ask doesn’t mean he is being ‘bad’. More likely it is simply that he doesn’t understand what you are asking him, so let’s stop and think about how you are communicating what you want.” Clients will often have an ‘ah ha’ moment when they slow down and look at how they were asking and considering how they can make themselves more clear.
When there is conflict, the perception that you are generally fair is eight times more important than the perception that you are generally correct in maintaining the respect of family members. Montford 2002