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  Home  > Family >  Balance
Squabbling? Try Diplomacy
by Tom D'Antoni

The two sides face each other over the table, jaws clenched, cheeks flushed with anger. The violation and subsequent retaliation have already been carried out � an eyebrow pencil (borrowed; lost) for an eyebrow pencil (savagely destroyed.) Yet your teenage daughters feel no resolution. The war rages on.

More on Landrum Bolling...
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It's times like these you could really use a self-titled "interventionist Quaker hawk."

Landrum Bolling, international peacemaker, has made a life out of making amends. In his 80s, he's brought together the Serbs and the ethnic Albanians, played icebreaking cocktail-party host to Carter and Arafat ("You two will have so much to chat about") and conducted dialogues in Bethlehem between Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Just think what he can do for your family conflicts.Bolling offers his straightforward wisdom:

Listen: "Every situation is different from every other situation, whether it's international or community or family, but there are certain things that are very clear," says Bolling. "One is people on both sides have to listen. One of the most important things I've learned in dealing with these big conflicts is how really stirred up people are if they think they're not being heard.'

"In a meeting, in June, bringing together the Serbs and the Albanians from Kosovo, that meeting almost broke up on the last day because a couple of the women began to grumble about things. 'We're being pushed too far, too fast toward drawing up a declaration of goodwill and forgiveness and reconciliation. Nobody has heard what we suffered in all this time.'

"One woman's husband had been shot and killed before her very eyes, before the eyes of her children. 'You expect me to forget that right away?' she said. 'I know we've got to forgive, got to move on, got to be reconciled, but people have to hear what I feel, and what I've endured.'

"We got this out in the open and everybody understood it, and the chairman of the meeting worked out language that the whole group adopted unanimously. Once the people had been heard, it was possible then to really make progress toward understanding and reconciliation. I see this over and over again.'

"In family situations, the wife may say, 'You're not listening. You're not hearing me.' This is a universal experience in conflict. People have to be heard."

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Related Stories
• Parents, Are You Listening?
• Love is a Package Deal
• Making Love Last
• When You're Mad in Love

Web Links
• Imago's Couple's Dialogue Video
• Landrum Bolling receives Sesquicentennial Peace Prize

Related Books
• Relationship Rescue, Phillip C McGraw
• The Secret Language of Relationships, Gar Goldschneider
• Why People Don't Heal And How They Can, Caroline Myss
• Couple Skills, Matthew McKay
• Imago Relationship Therapy, Rick Brown

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