About Me

Meredith Richardson, Esq., is a conflict management specialist.  She works as a Mediator, Facilitator, Trainer, Conflict Coach, and Collaborative Lawyer in Maine and New Hampshire.  Follow her on facebook as Meredith Mediates: http://www.facebook.com/MeredithMediates.  To receive monthly tips on conflict and upcoming events and retreats, email her at meredithmediates@aol.com.

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Thursday
Sep252014

Conflict Lessons from a Segway

  1.        Stand up straight.
  2.        Be centered.
  3.        You’ll spend a lot of time on your toes.
  4.        But don’t tense up.
  5.        You can’t move forward if you’re leaning back.
  6.        If you’re passive, you aren’t getting anywhere either.
  7.        Be aware of what is happening around you.
  8.        It’s probably going to hurt, at least a little.
  9.        Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.

If you'd like to explore this list in more detail or if you're just looking for an excuse to ride a Segway and a team-building exercise like this seems like the perfect fit, give me a call: 207-439-4267.  Learning about conflict really can be fun, just as riding a Segway really can be educational.

Monday
Sep222014

when trust is broken

Do you want to be right or do you want to be in relationship?

This can be one of the hardest questions to answer.

When there is a substantial violation of your trust, what do you do with that?

What do you do with multiple, small violations of your trust?

The answer is different for each of us.  Some are quick to choose principles over relationship.  Some are always choosing relationship.  And most of us fall somewhere in between.

Sometimes it's the first violation of trust that causes us to ask this question.  Usually, when that happens, it's something big, some form of betrayal on a large scale, like an affair.

Sometimes it's a collection of violations over time.  Trust has been slowly chipped away at, eroded, until finally the question is there, "Do I want to continue this relationship?"

Trust is something which can be freely given or earned over time.  It also can be squandered by the receiver.  It takes much longer to rebuild trust than it does to receive it initially.

Words are not enough when it comes to rebuilding trust.  It is one's actions which truly tell whether one is trustworthy or not. 

Rebuilding trust takes time and energy on both sides.  It can be a long and painful process. 

And, until trust has been rebuilt, the question lingers, "Do I want to continue in this relationship?"

Only you have the answer to that question.

Wednesday
Sep172014

Taking the Craziness Out of Conflict

In June, I participated in the Power of One Conference and gave a talk entitled Taking the Craziness Out of Conflict.  To watch the video, click here:  Taking the Craziness Out of Conflict

Tuesday
Sep092014

fall is a time to reap what you've sown

Fall is in the air.  The nights are cooler and longer.  The apples at local farms are almost ready to be picked.

While the weather still supports a lot of outdoor activities, with nightfall coming sooner, and with children back in school, it seems that your evenings are more likely to be spent at home these days.

If you've been taking care of yourself and your relationships, then spending time at home with your loved ones may be quite pleasant.

And if you haven't, then you may find yourself feeling a little trapped in the evenings, wishing for the escape that summer brings.  

Or perhaps you live alone and you're feeling a little lonely and wish that you had someone around in the evenings.

Fall is a time to reap what you've sown.

What have you sown over the course of the year?  Seeds of discontent?  Seeds of gratitude?  Have you nurtured your relationships, your loved ones?  Have you tended to the needs of others as well as those your own?  Have you communicated effectively?  Have you treated others the way that you want to be treated?  Have you sought out relationships with people who treat you well?

In relationships, as in gardening, what you intended is not always what you get.  Plants can suffer from blight, pests, drought, flood, etc.  You can put in a lot of work and still have your efforts destroyed by circumstances beyond your control.  In the alternative, with the right conditions, you can get a high yield with little effort on your part.  Most of the time, however, there is a direct correllation between the work you put in and the benefit you receive.

Take a look at your relationships.  Are they working for you?  What have you sown?  What are you reaping?

 

Monday
Sep012014

living with mental illness

Robin Williams' recent suicide has brought the issue of mental illness to the forefront for many in the United States.  Many of us who knew him only as a performer wonder how someone who brought such joy to the lives of so many could also experience such despair in his personal life.

Living with mental illness can be difficult, both for the person who suffers from mental illness and for those who love that person.

Maya Angelou did not write her poem, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, to address mental illness.  However, for me, her free bird personifies the idealized version of normalcy when one is wrapped in the struggle of mental illness and her caged bird epitomizes what it feels like to be wrapped in the despair of struggling with mental illness when all that you want is to be normal and free.

The free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wings

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with fearful trill

of the things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

Mental illness in our society comes with a stigma attached to it.  It is not as great a stigma as it used to be, but it is still there, none the less.

In Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, created in 1937, the characters are labeled and defined one-dimensionally.  There is the Evil Queen, who clearly suffers from some kind of personality disorder.  Then you have Grumpy (who may be clinically depressed or antisocial), Sleepy (who probably has narcolepsy), Bashful (whose social anxiety may not rise to the level of a disorder), Sneezy (who suffers from allergies), and Dopey (who isn’t the brightest bulb on the tree, as they say).

When you admit to having a mental disorder, there is always the fear that you will forever be seen and defined one-dimensionally, by your disorder.  And yet, you are so much more than that.

A.A. Milne, the author of Winnie the Pooh, knew this.  While his characters also have their troubles, they aren’t labeled with them, and they are allowed to be more than simply their disorders.  Winnie the Pooh may be addicted to honey, but he isn’t called the Honey Addict.  Piglet isn’t the Anxiety Pig; Eeyore isn’t the Depressed Donkey; Tigger isn’t the ADHD Tiger; Owl isn’t labeled as narcissistic, and Rabbit isn’t diagnosed with OCD.  Milne’s characters are multi-dimensional, with their strengths and weaknesses woven throughout.  They are who they are, in their entirety. 

In the United States, every year, one in four adults suffers from at least one mental disorder.  One in four.  Over 57% of US adults will experience a mental disorder during their lifetime.  That’s almost 3 out of 5.  And, yet, when it occurs, we keep it secret, thinking that it is somehow shameful.  We keep our own disorders secret and we keep those of our loved ones secret, both to protect them and to protect ourselves.

In keeping it secret, while protecting ourselves from adverse judgment, we also deprive ourselves from receiving emotional support from others.  And we continue to perpetuate the myth that mental health disorders are rare, that they don’t happen to “normal” people.  They do.  They happen every day.