Book Review: Pegues
Confronting without Offending is the guide on conflict resolution and understanding people's needs. The book combines practice with the author's reflection. The awareness of personal reasons for the behavior s well as knowledge of the reasons of other people motivate the performance of exercises. The section about interpersonal communication is the most important in the book. In the chapter about compliments, the author withdraws her resistance and shows the benefits of using compliments in communication. The methods of active listening will definitely help to avoid conflicts in a team and in everyday communication. The main idea of the book is that parties behave differently in conflict. One person can become a passive, frightened victim and behave this way throughout his/her life. Another person can become an active and insolent rebel and leave home as a teenager to live on the street. Pegues (2009) argues this happens because people are all born with different temperaments, which shape their behavior (p. 32). Consequently, there are three types of unhealthy reactions in the conflict, namely, capitulation, avoidance, and counterattack.
The ability to solve conflicts is crucial, and it is necessary to understand what kind of reaction style appears when facing a potential threat. Pegues (2009) sees the solution in the determination of an unhealthy behavior pattern. This will help to understand the needs of the person and restore the relationship (Pegues, 2009, p. 54). Another thesis of Pegues is that the parties of conflict do not realize their needs. Thus, they continue reacting and experiencing pain (Pegues, 2009, p. 65). Emotional reactions and cognitions are triggered by different parts of the brain. Humans start to feel faster than they start to think, which generates unhealthy types of behavior. Thus, it is necessary to allow each one to take a break before the resolution of the conflict, and try to determine the basic needs. Pegues (2009) admits that emotional arguments are bigger than the rational ones. In fact, people need both. However, in reality, the sides of the conflict often lower the importance of the emotional component while the logical one is prioritized (Pegues, 2009, p. 120). Therefore, it is not always possible to properly resolve the conflict. People who are able to interact with other people on an emotional level can bring pacification to a conflict situation. However, very few people follow this principle. Pegues (2009) develops the topic of healing suggestions but does not fully disclose the point of rational arguments. This can be a separate topic for discussion but she manages to mention it while doing research on the conflict resolution.
This book evoked my memories of the quarrels with my mother. She used to be my mentor and authority. It was useful at the beginning of my life when she gave me many pieces of advice and mentored my study at school. However, when I started to act more independently, she saw she was losing her power, and this inevitable separation was painful for her. Without fully realizing the core of our problems, I began to question her authority more and more strongly, which had led to an open conflict. It was long-standing and continued until the moment I went to a college in another city. However, the problems only became worse since the struggle for power and independence did not end. As Pegues (2009) argues, the real winner will be the one who will first take the position of a calm dialogue. I remember when I said, "I want to talk calmly, I do not want to shout again, I'm tired of it. Let's talk like adults." I understood there was no reason to reject my mother as she was the most important person in my life. It is hard to deny such an idea when you are an adult. Most teenagers, like parents, do not analyze such situations, they do not ask questions about how to avoid these conflicts later, how to stop constant quarrels. Both parents and children feel that this nightmare is solely their problem, individual and unique. When I finished reading this book, I understood I should try to understand her life and re-evaluate her actions. As a child, I kept resentment and anger for some words, mother's actions or inactions, but I now understand, forgive, and accept her choices based on my personal adult experience. The generation of our parents was raised in conditions of acute shortage of information and high moral standards, which could not but influence them. Thus, the basic principles of understanding the reasoning of the others and mutual respect were the key in my story.
Confronting without Offending traces the biblical views on specific forms of human communication and offers an opportunity to see that the biblical view on human relationships can be integrated into a meaningful complex of representations (Pegues, 2009, p. 14.) In addition, the book can show the way to create a truly unified and scientific general theory of interpersonal communication that will surpass today's metaphorical and multidirectional theorizing. The author's approach raises the question about the implication of biblical teaching in complex communicational structures with five or more people. Moreover, Pegues (2009) kept the following question open: what is the post conflict phase when both sides of the conflict try to act in a different way? The book lacks the view on the types of relationships mother-son and father-daughter as both these pairs entail the psychological complexes, thus, it would be interesting to broaden the research in this field. Consequently, the book is the beginner's conflict resolution guide with numerous cases from workplace, family, and educational facilities. Pegues (2009) can focus her research on a more specific topic such as the implication of biblical principles for teenagers as young people do not know much about Christianity. The disadvantage of this book is that Pegues does not create an integrated and unifying communication theory. She tries to combine the psychology of subject relations with the presentation of biblical passages from the New Testament. She avoids being too religious in her assumptions, and her book has many practical implications based on her personal experience. However, she can be more conceptual by mentioning different communication models and including more scientific verification. Of course, one cannot guarantee that the experiment will confirm the correctness of her approach but such a probability exists, and this book indicates the prospects of this approach. In addition to the purely heuristic and educational benefits of the author's attempt to synthesize, this book can also be viewed as the basis for complete integration of the biblical teachings in the framework of psychology.
The most important lesson I have realized is that one has to manage conflicts when they arise and not wait for them to become excessively polarized. I would try to avoid future conflicts by practicing conflict with a partner. Pegues (2009) argues that if the one insists on his/her own position, he or she cannot fully express the true feelings as well as the resentment and anger (p. 96). Participants of a conflict should use neutrality to observe the conflict from outside and give useful recommendations. Neither side will win the conflict until both understand the reasoning of the other party. Enlightenment is a common task. To achieve this, I have created an exercise. I will ask my relative or friend to help me with this task. I will describe some conflict that I have with a specific opponent. My friend will play the role of this opponent and I will defend my position. Moreover, I will write down all my negative thoughts about the specific situation and delete the document after it. These exercises will help to create the habit of neutralizing the negative flow of thoughts as well as not to be afraid of the opponent.
The moment of entering into a conflict is the matter of the one's own choice. Anyone who comes into conflict unprepared can act well, but the one who has made a conscious decision to engage oneself in a conflict will undoubtedly act more successfully and will achieve more. Awareness is the best preparation for the subsequent resolution of conflicts. In fact, knowledge can play a more important role in managing conflicts than courage. The second change I will make is the diary of success in the negotiations with the people and in everyday conversations. In the diary, I will write down all my achievements for the whole day, as well as progress in the conflict resolution. I will focus on the positive moments that occur in my life, and the negative ones will slowly disappear. Pegues (2009) argues that all the negative attitudes established from childhood can be destroyed with this practice (p. 150). Both these exercises will help me forget criticism, unfounded accusations, and stimulate confidence growth. Gradually, I will understand myself better, find peace in my soul and reach harmony with the world.
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