Introducing “The Anti-Antagonist”

October 12, 2011 | Family Law News, Legal Perspective

Icon for author Brian Vertz Brian Vertz

Those who know me know that I encourage settlement. Of course, there are times when we must go to war, but often we end up making peace, sometimes even after a battle or skirmish. One possible avenue for achieving settlement is mediation, and one of the best-known divorce mediators in our area is Ann L. Begler. I’ve known Ann for many years, both in her former law practice and today as a mediator. She has just premiered her blog on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website under the pen name “The Anti-Antagonist.”

Ann’s first blog post deals with hot button issues. Others may engage in behaviors that we find particularly irritating. Ann calls those behaviors “hot buttons,” and she urges us to plan in advance how we will react to those hot buttons when they happen during meetings, phone calls, or other communications.

Craig Runde and Tim Flannagan, who are with the Center for Conflict Dynamics at Eckard College, have outlined a list of common events that often serve as hot buttons for many people. Their list includes:

•    Abrasiveness:  Arrogant, sarcastic, and demeaning
•    Aloofness:  Isolating, not seeking input, hard to approach
•    Hostility:  Angry, yelling, losing temper
•    Micro-management:  Constantly monitoring, checking on others
•    Overly analyzing:  Focus on minor issues, perfection only
•    Self-centeredness:  Care only about self, believe they are always correct
•    Unappreciativeness:  Fail to give credit, seldom praise good performance
•    Unreliability:  Miss deadlines, cannot be counted on
•    Untrustworthiness:  Exploit others, take underserved credit

Why should we have to deal with the irritating behaviors of other people? Why is it my problem? For me, it’s about control. We might not like to tolerate the misbehavior of others, but by planning for it, we can maintain control over the meeting dynamics and possibly the outcome. We will have an advantage over misbehaving opponents if we do not lose control of ourselves. Good tip, Ann.

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