I’m pleased to share the cover design and editorial summary for my upcoming publication. Please feel free to let me know what you think!
The Tell Me More Gesture: How & Why to Welcome Conflict
Author Janet Rowles begins her work with a surprising yet profound perspective on interpersonal conflict: “Conflict is an essential and unavoidable part of experiencing life to its fullest.” With this sentiment, she has created an indispensable guide to navigating conflict in a new way, one that does not urge readers to suppress or minimize their emotions—or the emotions of others in conflict with them— even when those emotions are perceived to be negative or messy.
Rowles taps into her own experiences of both conflict mediator (professionally) and instigator (personally) to take an empathetic approach toward helping others self-manage—and even welcome— their own conflicts. She encourages the reader to lean into conflict by saying three simple words: “Tell me more.” Throughout every chapter, Rowles’ belief that embracing conflict rather than stifling it is essential for fulfilling the fundamental desires for deeper and more meaningful relationships.
Throughout the book, Rowles utilizes a rich assortment of tools, tips, quotes, examples, and outside resources to aid the reader. Many of the pages contain pertinent quotations in the sidebar, drawing on the wisdom of great thinkers to speak to the conflict we all experience in life. Exercise boxes invite the reader into personal reflection throughout the chapters in addition to the journal entry spaces that appear at the end of each chapter. This helpful dual-reflection format gets readers to engage in analysis while reading as well as after they’ve finished the chapter, giving them more time for absorption of the content. Together, these complementary parts create an invaluable resource for readers of all backgrounds.
The author also injects her own personality into the work, using case studies from her professional and personal life. This gives the book a deeper level of authenticity and relatability. The integration of Rowles’ personal voice alongside research and insights from the field makes for the perfect marriage of logos and pathos. By the end of the book, I truly felt as if I had reached a new understanding of conflict engagement in a healthy way, while also feeling as if I’d had the author as my personal guide and companion through this journey. Readers are sure to feel the same.
This Brenda Ueland quote is one of my favorites. What do YOU think?
“Now before going to a party, I just tell myself to listen with affection to anyone who talks to me, to be in their shoes when they talk, to try to know them without my mind pressing against theirs, or arguing, or changing the subject. No. My attitude is: ‘Tell me more.’ This person is showing me his soul. It is a little dry and meager and full of grinding talk just now, but presently he will begin to think, not just automatically to talk. He will show his true self. Then he will be wonderfully alive.’ …Creative listeners are those who want you to be recklessly yourself, even at your very worst, even vituperative, bad-tempered. They are laughing and just delighted with any manifestation of yourself, bad or good. For true listeners know that if you are bad-tempered it does not mean that you are always so. They don’t love you just when you are nice; they love all of you.”
― Brenda Ueland, Strength to Your Sword Arm: Selected Writings
Orange bird looking at the camera
“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”
In our deepest despair, when conflict and sadness and anger and confusion overwhelm us, hope for the future can be hard to access. Remember that this is just one moment in time. Have faith that there is something ahead that will help things progress, bring about change, and lighten the day. It is fine to merely sit with that faith and not worry so much about how it might occur. It will occur. Big changes often happen in baby steps, so they are hard to recognize.
I have found it useful, in dark moments, to literally put a tiny smile on my face. I am not feeling it; it is just a physical change. It is interesting that this slight change of turning up the corners of my mouth affects my attitude. It allows me to feel a little hope and slightly change my attitude, which is about all I can control. Baby steps – even towards faith.
“RESENTMENT IS LIKE DRINKING POISON AND WAITING FOR THE OTHER PERSON TO DIE.”
Talking about getting rid of resentments and bitterness is easy to say, but very hard to do. How do you get rid of resentment and anger if that is what you are feeling? We know intellectually that anger adds stress to our lives and that stress is hard on us emotionally and physically. But doing something about resentment takes a lot of work.
A first step might be to notice any physical symptoms that you have. Are you suffering with stomach aches, indigestion, headaches, losing sleep, or ?? If so, the idea of living symptom-free can be a good motivator to help us accept other people’s humanness in exchange for better health and productivity. This is a first step, of course.
The next step towards relieving yourself of resentment is to think about the person you are resenting and try to understand their motivation for their behavior. Understanding someone else’s perspective is key to humanizing them. While you don’t like what they did, perhaps you can understand that they are imperfect and dealing from their own difficulties and damage which likely have little or nothing to do with you. This is the beginning to seeing the person as a whole person, not just as the unwanted behavior.
Another step might be to ask yourself why this person’s behavior affects you so greatly. How can you make the behavior matter less? What is it about you that makes you take in their behavior in so deeply?
Oh! And have you ever tried talking directly to the person about it? It’s surprising how much relief one can feel from having a good talk and it’s shocking how many resentments go undiscussed.
(The above quote has been attributed to many people, most notably Nelson Mandela, Carrie Fisher, and Malachy McCourt.)