Episode 5 // The Art of Conflict Styles: Navigating Relationships with Grace with Emily Taylor

Mar 26, 2024
Proclaim Peace S1E5

On this episode of the Proclaim Peace Podcast, hosts Jennifer and Patrick are joined by Emily Taylor to address listener feedback about the relationship between conflict and peace. They explore the idea that conflict is not necessarily bad and delve into two verses from scripture that provide valuable peacemaking advice. The hosts challenge the notion that peace and conflict are opposites, emphasizing the importance of understanding the role of opposition in achieving true peace.



Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts or watch on YouTube.


[00:02:15] Conflict as raw peacemaking material.

[00:05:25] Definition of peace.

[00:09:02] Finding peace in adversity.

[00:12:42] Transformative mindset shift on conflict.

[00:15:44] Transforming conflict into growth.

[00:21:08] Approaches to conflict resolution.

[00:27:20] Conflict resolution styles.

[00:29:06] Truth and peace in doctrines.

[00:33:38] Conflict styles and collaborating.

[00:36:00] Learning to negotiate effectively.

[00:39:55] Traits for conflict resolution.

[00:45:57] Healing inner wounds.

[00:48:37] Personal growth and transformation.

[00:53:35] The Golden Rule and Conflict.

[00:56:48] Little miracles in mediation.

[00:59:46] Finding peace through daily practices.




(00:03-00:06) Jennifer Thomas: Welcome to the Proclaim Peace Podcast. I'm Jennifer Thomas.
(00:06-00:15) Patrick Mason: And I'm Patrick Mason. And this is the podcast where we apply principles of the gospel and read the Book of Mormon to become better peacemakers.

(00:15-00:15) Jennifer Thomas: Hi, Patrick.

(00:16-01:01) Patrick Mason: Hey, Jen. So I'm excited for this episode. I'm excited for all of our episodes. But this one, especially because it's coming in response to some feedback that we've gotten from listeners who have tuned in to the first few episodes. Thank you all very much. And one of the pieces of feedback that we've gotten from a few people is this idea that, wait a minute, conflict is OK. I had learned my whole life that the conflict is bad, it's scary, contention is of the devil. And now all of a sudden, we've got this podcast that's supposed to be about peace, but which is also telling me that the conflict isn't all bad. So like, ah, like hell. So I think that's where we're coming from today.

(01:01-01:42) Jennifer Thomas: Yes, and one of the advantages of exploring scripture in search of a particular virtue or an idea, the way we're doing it on this podcast, is that we don't really have an agenda beyond digging deep and mining God's word for examples of what we're looking for. We want the result to be improved behavior and healthier ways of spiritually thinking. Today, we really are going to just discuss two verses in this podcast, but we think that these two verses are just rich with precious peacemaking advice. And the question I guess we want to start with is, what does conflict actually have to do with peace? Because these are scriptures about opposition. So are peace and conflict opposites?

(01:43-02:49) Patrick Mason: Yeah. And so I think oftentimes there's a sense that, yeah, if we want peace, we have to get rid of conflict. Exactly. And I think the idea that we want to introduce today is to suggest that conflict is just part of the basic materials of life. It's part of the basic materials of creation. and it's actually the raw stuff of peacemaking, that you actually can't have peace without conflict. I think that's kind of, in some ways, a little bit difficult for people to think about, but I also think it's kind of simple on a certain level. I think about examples like night and day, that literally, you can't have one without the other. It's the presence of the other. It's the presence of the opposite or the opposition, like Lehi says, that actually gives meaning and definition to the other thing. And it's actually sometimes the very moments where they come into conflict that are the most beautiful kind of creative things. So that's why we love sunsets and sunrises, because that's where day and night meet one another.

(02:50-04:02) Jennifer Thomas: Well, and one of the other things I think we'd like to introduce is this idea that sometimes these things that are in opposition, or we think of them as in opposition, we think that because we sort of have limited temporal mortal minds. And in fact, there are ideas that sometimes we think of as in opposition, and light and dark is a good one, day and night. One of the things that's been fascinating to me is learning that most of our brain development and physical growth happens at night, in the dark. But we have grown up thinking about night as the time that we are least productive. But new knowledge about night can tell us that, in fact, night and day, for us as human beings, are two parts of a big whole. They're not in opposition to one another in the fighting sense. They're in opposition to one another in the parts of a whole sense. So one of the things that's important as we think about opposition and conflict is to realize that these two things may be, and I think Lehi does a beautiful job outlining this for Jacob, is that these things are actually part of divine wholeness and it will improve our ability to live in this world if instead of being in opposition to opposition or in conflict with conflict, we see them as part of a holistic part of our journey.

(04:03-04:17) Patrick Mason: Yeah, the math starts to confuse me there, like double negative and all this kind of stuff, right? Well, fortunately, we have the Book of Mormon as our guide, but we also have a great guest to help us walk through these ideas as well.

(04:18-05:06) Jennifer Thomas: So without further ado, we will jump right into a conversation with her. We are so delighted to have Emily Taylor with us today. She's a mediator, psychologist, author, and mother of five teenagers. She holds a master's degree from the University of Chicago in International Policy and from the University of Denver in Conflict Resolution. And next month, she will graduate with a PhD in Developmental Psychology from BYU. Before her doctoral work, Emily served as the Assistant Director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution at the BYU Law School. And I know her well because before returning to complete her PhD, Emily served in MWIC senior leadership, where she was the developer of our original peacemaking curriculum. Emily always approaches conflict with wisdom and compassion, and we are delighted to have her with us today.

(05:08-05:25) Patrick Mason: All right. So Emily, it is so good to have you on the podcast. Thank you for being here. And we want to start by asking you the first question that we ask all of our guests. It's a simple question or a deceptively simple question that turns out not to be so simple after all. But how do you define peace?

(05:25-06:04) Emily Taylor: I think you're correct in saying it sounds simple, but it's not. How I've come to understand it is rather than the absence of conflict or difficulty or tension, It is a state, and that's more as a psychologist, a state of calm, understanding, and perception, and understanding. So that can be experienced as an individual, and it also can be experienced as a collective. But we kind of start with the individual. But it's not just the absence of bad things. It's the inclusion of that state of understanding, light, truth, to a certain extent.

(06:04-06:46) Jennifer Thomas: I love that. So we want to jump right in because when we reached out to you about joining us on the podcast, you immediately responded. And we know that the Book of Mormon is filled with a lot of there's a lot of material for peacemakers. But you responded immediately and said there were basically one or two specifics that are specific scriptures that you wanted to focus on. And that was Second Nephi, chapter two, verses 11 and 12. And I'm wondering if you would launch this conversation by explaining to us why that is important to you, why you felt like those two scriptures were so important in a broader conversation about peace. Because peace isn't mentioned in those scriptures, so it might not be intuitive to some people.

(06:46-08:27) Emily Taylor: Sure. So if you're familiar with 2 Nephi 2, this is Lehi talking to his son Jacob. He calls him his son in the wilderness of his affliction. So Jacob and Lehi have experienced intense conflict probably throughout Jacob's entire life, obviously Lehi even before that. The reason why I turn to that is because it sets up the paradigm of what human life is supposed to be like. even if you're part of the covenant or you're trying to follow Jesus Christ. I spent too many years of my life thinking that my lack of peace, maybe internally, familial, and elsewhere, was a sign that I was doing something wrong, that I was wrong or other people were wrong. And I believe that Lehi puts such an emphasis on this topic of opposition in all things with the caveat that it's set up that way to get us to a state of peace. So it's not necessarily intuitive, but I think, especially for Latter-day Saints and those who are on their faith journey, to understand that, again, Bad things happening to good people, people experiencing opposition, is by design for every single human being who will come onto this earth. And to not spend all our time judging ourselves or other people for the conflicts we experience, but spend our time constructively living the kind of lives that we want to live in a proactive sense. So that was my initial reason that I wanted to share that scripture. Any thoughts about that?

(08:28-09:02) Jennifer Thomas: Yeah, I'll just add, I think sometimes it's even one step further. It's not that we're just uncomfortable with conflict. But I think sometimes we expect that if we're doing everything right, we won't have conflict or opposition. And so sometimes I think incorrectly, we see experiencing those things as a sign of disfavor from God, like where he's mad at us, he's not sort of snowplowing our path. And I think that can be really damaging, because then if we don't understand there really is opposition built in everywhere, when there is opposition, we're like, Oh, is God mad at me? And then we feel icky, right? And it's not great.

(09:02-11:22) Emily Taylor: Yeah, that's kind of that's my take. And not to like, launch into a whole other spiritual subject. But I actually tie this almost directly with Moses seven, where Enoch is seeing the unfolding of the world. And he's at a loss. He's just agonizing. He's talking to the Lord and just saying, how can this be? I refuse to be comforted, is what he says. And then the Lord's like, look, let me show you a few more things. He sees the coming of Christ. And there's some consolation in that. And then immediately after, he despairs over the state of the earth. The earth itself is bemoaning her fate. And then he says, when is the earth going to rest? And then so the Lord goes to the next thing and says, look at the ultimate wrapping up of my plan. And so to me, there's something about each of us going through maybe counseling with others in a Lehigh sense, like, OK, you're experiencing adversity. This was by design. The atonement covers this. And then we have the examples of not just Enoch, but many others. Even Jacob, Lehi mentions it. It's really slot, like really subtle. Thou hast beheld him in thy youth. You have seen his coming. So Enoch is likened to that as well. You've seen the coming and that's why you can kind of dwell in a state of peace in Moses 747. This is one of my favorite current scriptures, or it says, Behold, through faith, I am in the bosom of the Father. And he says, Zion is with me. So Zion, even at that state point, had not been created. But he's seen the possibility. He trusts God. And so that gives us, I think, as just the average lay person, I think I'm on the same path. But I'm going to have to develop my knowledge, my trust in God, so that I can see something that's not yet created, but a desire to participate and join with him to bring about those ends that he's kind of shown me a vision of. So that's kind of my deep thought for the day, but that's really what has been on my mind even during this past year. I've had those scriptures in my head quite a bit.

(11:23-12:31) Patrick Mason: I love that. And I couldn't agree more. I think Moses 7 is just such a, we call it the pearl of great price, right? I mean, that's a great pearl within the pearl of great price. And for lots of different reasons, but including around conflict, there's so much good stuff in that chapter around conflict and peace. So we could do that. We'll have to save that for another episode, right? We'll steer back to Lehi and Jacob. And I wonder if you could kind of walk us through these two verses, so verses 11 and 12, maybe if we can read them together. And then if you could also, maybe this is kind of two parts, both to kind of read through it together, but also to tell us when you experienced this shift in your own mindset around conflict? Because you said you used to feel one way about it, right? And then something changed. And obviously, the Scripture seems to be an important part of that. So do you mind kind of doing both of those things for us, kind of walking us through these two verses, and then helping us think through how this can be transformative in the way we think about conflict, and how that happened for you?

(12:32-19:30) Emily Taylor: Sure. Okay. So if it's all right, I'll just start reading. So in 11, Lehi says, for it must needs be, he doesn't say maybe it's, it must needs be that there is an opposition in all things, all things that, that could stands out. If not, so my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass neither wickedness, neither holiness, nor misery. neither good nor bad. Again, all things. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one. Wherefore, if it should be one body, it must needs remain as dead, having no life, neither death, nor corruption, nor incorruption, happiness, nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. And then in 12, we read, wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of not. Wherefore, there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power and the mercy and the justice of God." So maybe in a practical sense, you asked me if there was a shift. And for me, there was a shift when I saw, as Jennifer, you're saying, My opposition that I was experiencing in my life, I saw it as maybe like a test. Maybe I wasn't good enough and I needed to refine myself or whatever. But I had a strategy. My strategy as a faithful Latter-day Saint, hoping to develop a relationship with God, was I'm going to be as nice and accommodating as possible. And that sounds maybe really silly, but when I finally figured it out, I was in my young 40s. I had five children under the age of 10. My youngest was three. And I realized that my strategy worked about 70% of the time. And the other 30%, at least, I had built up quite a reserve of resentment. resentment within my family, resentment in church settings, community settings, because I assumed that if I, as a gift, sacrifice my own interests, that other people would perceive those gifts and reciprocate in kind, and that they might even anticipate what I needed. And what I found was that my strategy just didn't work very well. And I actually went through a period, it's almost like grieving, like I went through a period of anger. At the same time, I was studying conflict resolution. So I was formally studying it and kind of digesting how I had lived most of my life. And I recognized that I had misinterpreted the scriptures. And that may sound kind of like, whoa, you know. But for me, I had taken maybe a few teachings of Jesus Christ. And I know, Patrick, you've written about this in Proclaimed Peace. I had taken scriptures such as turn the other cheek, And I had taken that as, if I'm a peacemaker, I submit willingly to injustice, intolerance. And I have it within me, kind of through the atonement and through my own grit, I'm going to digest the poison. Somehow, I'm going to be able to purify it, mostly by myself. After all I can do, then I'll ask God for help, right? Kind of this Puritan ethic of like, I'm going to work through it. Just bootstrap it, right? Yeah, right? So for me, it was like, I went through a period of anger again, which I think is part of the grief of, wow, I just spent 40 years of my life hoping that someone would meet my needs. not truly advocating for myself, and I'm not as happy as I think I should be. I have the trappings of a happy, you know, LDS woman, but my actual inside, I was pretty resentful. So I kind of reached a point where I realized my strategy doesn't work. I need to do something different. And I was lucky enough to be in a program where I started to have more access to different ideas. Say for example, I don't know if you've ever taken a conflict styles assessment like the Did that and what I thought was funny is in my graduate class of it was a small class all of us came out as avoiders and accommodators And I thought that was funny because so the people seeking to study peace Don't like conflict or like generally don't address it head-on, but they're like we're all we all wanted to study it so that seemed that was comforting in a way and it also was like wow I have some work to do and I need to I see it more like conflict is not my personality, like my conflict style is not necessarily my personality. Maybe I have a little bit of disposition in there, but over the years I've come to understand that it's more how I was kind of conditioned, like over time, to treat conflict and there's certain triggers, like say if my parents fought about money Even in my own marriage, if there's something about money, there's something that feels more intense. So anyway, that crisis led to really starting to study. And I finally, I had a lot of these thoughts percolating. And before we moved to Utah in 2018, there's a professor, Eva Weitzman. She's at the public policy, like public administration school at BYU. She had written an op-ed for the Deseret News on being a peacemaker. And when I read her op-ed, I was like, she just articulated everything that I've just learned about peace. Peacemakers are active. They participate. don't just tolerate injustices, but they don't have to be angry or hostile about things, but we can do something about the things that don't work right in our lives, in our society. And that was kind of a, that was a big turning point for me. So I would say over the past, you know, six to seven years in particular, I've taken charge of myself. If I don't like how things are, I need to, I need to own it. And then in my world around me, don't assume that people can guess what I need. but in a kind but clear way, bring up the things I need. And that's made a huge difference. And I see how Our Heavenly Father also tries to do that with us. He's clear and kind, but often quite direct, I would say, in revelation through the scriptures and also through His prophets.

(19:32-20:17) Patrick Mason: That's so great. For me, one of the big takeaways out of what you just talked about, and thanks for sharing that journey, is that it is a journey. And the peacemakers are made more than they're born. Maybe, as you said, maybe there might be some dispositional stuff for some people that are just wired a little bit differently than others. But but these are skills that the people have to learn. It's not too late to learn it. If you're in your 40s and 50s or even beyond that and saying, wow, I've struggled with this or I find myself in a place that I'm not happy with, these concepts and these tools can actually literally transform your life and your relationships.

(20:17-21:05) Jennifer Thomas: Yes. Well, I will just add to that, Emily, you are the one that taught me about conflict styles. And that was kind of revolutionary for me because I just sort of thought there was one way to solve a problem. Conflict meant one thing. I had in my mind a preconception of what it looked like. And I had a preconception about what not dealing with it looked like, but not dealing with it is actually a way of responding to it, right? And so it really made me rethink entirely how I was approaching situations of conflict in my own life. And I would love it if you would take some time here to share with our listeners these different styles, right? Because I think they will… We can't take a test with them right now, but you can describe them and they might be able to see themselves in that and learn a bit. better about how they can approach conflict in their own lives.

(21:08-27:19) Emily Taylor: There's lots of different ways to kind of divide up responses to conflict, but one of the ones that appealed to me most, Thomas and Kilman actually were borrowing even from others about dividing up the ways we could address conflict. But first is avoiding. Avoiding is when you don't address your own needs or others' needs. It's a little more nuanced than that, but that's kind of like the basic. Avoiding it. We do that very well in our culture. In certain situations, it's almost expected, right? Yeah. And then kind of a little bit, a step above that in terms of assertiveness is accommodating, but that's where I'm cooperatively trying to get, help you get what you want. I suppress my own need and defer to your need. And that can be expected in social situations. Whole cultures are built up around certain people or those in certain positions are supposed to accommodate and give up what they need for the good of another person or person in authority. And then compromise is an interesting one, because compromise is when we kind of split 50-50 what we want. But a lot of times, mediators, we see it a little bit like lose-lose. Like, instead of collaborating, which is going the full length of communicating enough that both people get most of what they want, say like 80 to 100% of what they want, compromise, again, even how we say it with the math, is 50-50. So I'm like, this is intractable. You're difficult to work with. So I'm like, let's just compromise. You know, I thought it was funny. I lived in Japan, you know, as a missionary for a year and a half. And even deciding who did the prayer, we do paper, scissors, rock, like, like, again, like, let's just make this as easy as possible and avoid conflict. So you got avoiding accommodating, compromising, where both people have to, like, you give a little bit, and then competing is the lone one that I avoided. I avoided competing because I thought if I was competing, I was not a peacemaker and I was not a good saint. So that's probably the biggest change for me, is I see competing not as an aggressive attack on anyone or not being selfish, but I see it more as advocating for one's own need. or for somebody else. So if I compete, I'm standing firm. Say, for example, say my husband and I have at length talked over something about how to, you know, with our kids, we, you know, spent two hours, we came to a decision, and then the next morning, my husband wakes up and he's like, I don't want to do that. I may compete with him. I collaborated with him the night before and said, you know, we talked through the whole thing and we came to a resolution. And then if the next day he's trying to like bow out of that, like so quickly, again, my competing with him may be like, hey, we made this decision, let's try it out. Does that make sense? So I use, and then, so there's competing, where you stand up for what you would like, and our savior did that so many times during his mortal life. I think of the most provocative, which it's my favorite parable, is actually with the blind man on the Sabbath, where he bends down and picks up clay, spits on it, two things prohibited by law, and heals the man, which was also prohibited on the Sabbath. And he did it in the company of those who would be judging him. So because of love, to teach truth, he stood firm and went against a cultural practice that was actually hurting people within their culture, both the accuser and the victim. And then finally, the fifth, like I mentioned, is collaborating. And that's where usually we don't go there until we've tried everything else that's easier, faster, that we know how to do. And then we're like, Oh, I got to learn how to talk about this. I'm like so wound up or like, I've held onto this for so long. Now I've got to like somehow try to talk about it. So where a mediator comes in, a mediator is actually guiding someone through a collaboration. through a negotiation so that both parties can be happy with the result. So ideally, again, I've become a developmental psychologist. My idea is every person, to be a fully developed person, a fully developed peacemaker, needs to have those five in their toolkit. And then within any relationship, say I'm even talking about my spouse, I should be using all five of those with my husband, even in a day. There's something he brings up, and I really don't care about it, but I know he cares about it deeply. I may accommodate him, but if there's something that we really don't get along about, and we tried to collaborate about it, I might even just say, okay, let's split it, you know? You get to go do this vacation, I get to do this vacation there, that kind of thing. So the idea is to flexibly use each of these conflict tools, a response, in the right situations, and don't say it's our personality, or don't say, oh, if I was really a peacemaker, I wouldn't have this need. Like, I wouldn't have a need to be heard in ward council. That's actually, like, people have a need to be seen, And instead of building up resentment or getting angry or like blurting out something all of a sudden, acknowledge the need and then address it within yourself and then with a group. So that's kind of, at least the conflict styles, that's made a huge difference in my life to have a framework to address my own need and then not just credit my personality or somebody else's personality for the conflict, not just say, oh, those are hotheads, like we're never gonna get along. I don't buy that anymore. I actually think you can, we can do some work to do much better at it. And so we can change like Patrick, you were saying.

(27:20-28:33) Jennifer Thomas: So one of the things I really like about this is that it involves a lot of agency if done well. When these are used inappropriately, they don't involve agency. I just default to accommodating or I default to avoiding. I haven't really thought it through. I haven't really made a choice. It's either been imposed on me by my culture or I just don't want to make a hard choice. One of the things that I like about the way you've described this is if all of these are in your toolbox, you use your agency to pick the one that's appropriate in the moment. And I think the other thing that's really wonderful is reminding people that collaborating takes a ton of work, it takes a lot of effort, gives us the absolute best outcome, But every problem in our life doesn't need to be solved on that level, right? And every relationship isn't worth bringing that kind of energy to. Sometimes you just need to get through the checkout line or you just need to, you know, and, but as long as you choose one of those responses to conflict, it's a choice, then it isn't a negative thing, right? So it's not a negative thing to accommodate or avoid in certain situations. As long as you've done it consciously, it's a choice. You've calculated risks, you've calculated benefits, and then you make a decision going in.

(28:33-31:25) Emily Taylor: Yes. I think what you addressed that really I've been thinking about also lately, especially in relation to the scriptures, because I think the Book of Mormon is actually a tool for peace. despite how much it talks about war, right? And this opposition and conflict. I mean, we all have just read two chapters of family conflict. And some of it is a little too close to home because you're like, Oh, like I get this, but there's something about, um, understanding light and truth. And interestingly, I wanted to bring it up and it's not, it's, it's actually in the next chapter after Lehi talks to Jacob in the next chapter, he's basically giving a blessing and counsel to his, his last and youngest son, Joseph. And. It really struck me in verse 12, and I wanted to bring it up if that's okay, because we always talk about the Bible and the Book of Mormon someday being brought together to establish like the fullness of the gospel, right? We talk about it in that way, but we don't talk about it in this way that Nephi does that I think is brilliant. So he says, In 12, again, this is 2 Nephi 3, 12, he says, And that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah shall grow together. So those doctrines will grow together unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins. What I thought is so interesting when I read this was truth Like, I was living with a falsehood. Does that make sense? Like, you could say it was how I was raised, but I was living with false ideas about what it meant to be a faithful Latter-day Saint. And the fruits of my living with a falsehood, that my needs didn't matter, and that they shouldn't matter, and that I should squash them every time, led to a lot of unhappiness. So when I read this, I'm like, there's doctrines in here, actual doctrines, Even, you know, we're told that if we choose the great mediator of all men, that we will be free. That I was choosing things that didn't lead to happiness. And so, and then it says after that, so not only false doctrines are false teachings, right? So I had, I had an incorrect perception and then the laying down of contentions and then the establishment of peace. So there's something about having truth. that lays a foundation for me even to have the possibility of creating internal peace and then peace after. Anyway, any thoughts on that? That's just something I've been thinking about.

(31:25-32:46) Patrick Mason: I think that's fantastic. And I like the way also that the verse talks about that these different ideas, it says, will grow together. And that makes me think about these different conflict styles that you've talked about. And I really appreciated that you didn't lay it out as a kind of hierarchy. right, a kind of phase one, phase two, you know, and the point is to climb the ladder and always be at the top of the ladder. But then said, yeah, that the metaphor of different tools in the toolbox and that are going to be useful for certain things in certain situations at certain times, but that using this language that when you use all the tools, right, that that's when you that's when you can build something that's really pretty cool rather than only using a hammer. in every situation or only using a screwdriver in every situation. So how a couple of things just specifics for because because I imagine a lot of listeners are this going to be new to them and actually kind of exciting. The first time I learned about conflict styles, I was like, wow, that's so helpful, right? In some ways it's so obvious, but oftentimes the most useful concepts are the things that actually name what is present in our everyday reality, but we've never thought about it because it's just the water we swim in. Where could people learn a little bit more about some of these conflict styles if they wanted to dive a little deeper?

(32:46-35:03) Emily Taylor: Sure. We talked about a conflict styles assessment, even starting with that. The United States Institute of Peace, has a conflict styles assessment, like an online version that you can access if you just look up conflict styles assessment. And then I'm not planning on selling my book here, but conflict fluent, I actually wrote the whole book about my own journey of figuring that out and trying to lay out what situations are the best to use those conflict styles in. But it is interesting even in like, so this is kind of like psychology that we're, you know, we're talking about, but it's interesting because the examples of it are all over the scriptures, especially from the life of the Savior. And one I wanted to bring up was Because you address the hierarchy. I always, from the time I heard about collaborating and it kind of became this buzzword, even in business, I'm like, I've got to collaborate. I've got to like talk through my issues and like share. And like Jen, you were saying, I collaborate on the most important issues. in the most important relationships. But I still use avoiding, accommodating, and all those other things in those relationships. But I was thinking about the Savior when he's first interviewed by Pilot. He responds, but do you remember he's back again, and then he basically, like, he just doesn't say anything. And you're like, why does he do that? But maybe he said his piece. And there are times, I think Lehi, he also has moments where he's like, I said all this stuff and now it's time for me to kind of back off. And so avoiding actually is very strategic because we can swing too far one to the other. So like when I found out I was an avoider, I'm like, I got to stop avoiding. Like I've got to like be assertive and, okay, so this is kind of embarrassing, but I'm gonna tell you because maybe you guys at least, listeners will remember it and they can laugh at me. But I just took negotiation, I'm in the middle of my masters and I'm like, I am not gonna be taken advantage of. I am gonna be intense, I'm gonna get the right price. So I'm in the Middle East, I'm in this shop, And I'm like, you will not take advantage of me.

(35:03-35:07) Patrick Mason: Everything is haggling, right?

(35:07-38:14) Emily Taylor: It's all bargaining. Again, like I'm in the city of peace, but I'm like, I'm going to be peaceful, but I'm going to be I'm going to be tough. So there's a gentleman and he's trying to tell me to sit on the ground in front of him. And I'm like, negotiators never sit down. So I'm like going to stand and I'm just being kind of not ornery, but just overcompensating for previous accommodation. And at one point, he just goes, you are the hardest Mormon woman I have ever met. And he's like, I'm not used to you. Everybody else just comes in here, and they buy their stuff, and they're on their way. But you, you're a big pill. And it was funny, because I was being a big pill. And it was not quite me. but I had to play around and do a little trial and error to come to a point where I could be competitive or like firm and steadfast without being a jerk. So you guys, if you can just remember that, like when you're first learning, you're gonna mess up and you're gonna do things that aren't quite you. But interestingly, just one other thought, if you're trying out a new style, I actually, like when I, I wanted to go buy a used car by myself. So again, this is my period of testing things. So I'm in my program and I'm like, I'm going to go buy a used car. I'm not going to bring a man with me because they won't talk to me and they're just going to talk to my husband. I'm going to do it myself. But I actually wrote out a script. I imagined in my mind what the other person, the person trying to buy my trade in, what he was going to say, or he or she, and then how I would respond. And so it was like I was acting. I remember when I went, the first time I went to a dealership, they offered me $3,000 for my car that I knew was worth at least $7,000. And I was like, okay, no, we're not going back there. And then I did some more research and then I went. And it was interesting because At first, it felt like it wasn't me, if that makes sense. I got the car and I got a big deal, a good deal, and I was kind of proud of myself. But I was like, that felt like I was acting like someone else. But the more I've competed in normal and natural ways in maybe small parts of my life, it now is normal to say like if I go to a restaurant and they forgot something instead of just being like oh you know whatever you know like now I'll be like oh excuse me I actually ordered this and I'm I would I would I would like to have that that's kind of part of my meal and nobody bats an eye or I'm not being rude, but I don't have this like sense of like, I've been taken advantage of, if that makes sense. So that's like a little bit of oversharing, but I think when we're talking about conflict, it really helps to think of specific situations where we move into, and now in my personality, it's more integrated, but at first it may feel very strange and unnatural.

(38:15-39:03) Jennifer Thomas: So I like the word that I was actually thinking as you were talking, I love that you just used the word personality because I think sometimes when we don't have fluidity with conflict styles, one conflict style kind of is our personality, right? Like I am meek or I am, gentle or whatever characteristic we might associate with that. I was wondering if you could share with us, what are some of the personal characteristics or virtues of people who are fluent in this? Instead of having a personality trait that's attached to one conflict style, what are some of the things that we can develop in ourselves that actually allow us to be more fluid and try on different things? and use different styles to solve problems.

(39:03-42:04) Emily Taylor: Sure. So again, forgive me. I've studied psychology intensely for the past three years, but I've used it in the way that, so this is method plus traits, if that's okay in responding. I think first off is identifying some of the traits that are desirable. Like you're saying like, Oh, I'd love to be a clear communicator. I'd love to be someone who can talk about difficult issues. without getting super emotional. Like for me, I usually avoid like kind of like intense conversations if I know I'm going to get escalated. So I was like, Oh, okay. A person who can, is deescalated or who can deescalate. That was one of the things I wanted to learn. So I, what I would say a trait, a first trait is know thyself. It's not if you're going to get mad or if you're going to have a negative reaction. It's going to be when. So instead of expecting perfection from yourself, you actually have a conflict plan. So that may sound funny, but so I even like it again in this like psych version is like, do a little study on yourself. So you've learned about these attributes. You've learned about avoiding accommodating. Say you take a, you know, an assessment and you're like, Whoa, like if I'm in a work situation, I'm way more aggressive than I am if I'm in a church setting. Why is that? And how do people react to me? And I would do a little study of myself. So that's the meta part is, okay, for the next three days, I'm going to write down every time I avoid something, or I'm going to write down every time I have a need that I don't express. So I like the know thyself is the first part, because we can try to hide what we really think. but the conflict styles are not meant to be tactics per se. It's very easy to move into that. Like the used car salesman, right? Like I'm like, I'm going to use these tactics and I'm going to kind of try to manipulate this person. But what I was trying to do is I'm trying to have a few, like these five vehicles for expressing my need and understanding someone else's need and weaving them together. So the trait is, I want, like, my goal is to be a weaver and to be a calm, like, thoughtful person, but I can't be that in a conflict with another person unless I'm not in conflict myself. Does that make sense? So know thyself first is kind of the, I don't think you can have a collective piece unless you have individual piece. I'm more and more convinced of that every time I do mediations. I don't know if I even answered your question, but that's kind of what I thought at first.

(42:04-43:26) Patrick Mason: No, I think that's fantastic. I've become more and more convinced of the same thing, Emily, over the past several years as I've studied and thought about and written about peace is that it really does begin with the kind of inner peace and radiates outward. You know, like the quote, there is no way to peace, peace is the way, that it's not just an outcome, but it's more than that. But what would you tell people? I can imagine there are some people listening who maybe have had such difficult experiences with conflict in their lives, through family or through community or whatever it might be, that they have a hard time believing that conflict can actually be productive of anything good. that because they've experienced so much negative, destructive, even violent conflict in their life, that actually avoidance sounds pretty good, right? The getting rid, you know, I mean, Lehi says neither happiness nor misery. Well, I wouldn't mind getting rid of the misery, actually. Neutral sounds pretty good to me. So what do you say to somebody who's experienced so much negative and destructive conflict in their life?

(43:26-49:18) Emily Taylor: Well, I think it's again, like everybody's had all different experiences. We don't like jump in headlong, like into a dangerous situation. Like if I'm, I lived in South Chicago, which is a fabulous place, but it actually was known for being pretty dangerous. If I'm walking along and like, I had this as a student and I hear heavy foot, you know, foot steps behind me, I'm not going to turn around as the peacemaker and try to collaborate with that person. I'm going to get out of a dangerous situation. Interestingly, when we look in the Book of Mormon, Nephi, for example, he's threatened. It's interesting because it's a familial pattern, right? Lehi, his life is threatened, physical violence and more. So God inspires him to leave. Interestingly, Joseph taking Mary and Jesus to Egypt, you know, when he's a young child. So there are very real situations where we should not be engaging in the conflict, like it is too dangerous. And that's not just physical, that's emotional, social and otherwise. So I'm not telling anyone that you just need to change your styles and then you can go to your adversary and you can expect to work it out. There's, yeah, there's much more to it than that. But I would say in particular, the work of the soul to not be in conflict with oneself is work worth doing? And again, I only know how to share personally. That's just how I am. Uh, for the first time in my life, I did, I, I did therapy this past year. And at the same time I was doing mindfulness teacher training and I had no idea how, how, uh, deep some of my patterns were to avoid hurt and discomfort and that The parts of me, and that's kind of the training I did, no bad parts, was to keep me safe, if that makes sense. But over time, I don't want to just be safe and isolated. I actually want to be interwoven with others that I can trust. So it's a mix of kind of like the therapy side and then specific conflicts that we address to remove some of the wounds. That doesn't mean I have to go back to the people who hurt me, but I need to address it within myself at least. I have been hurt. This is where it changed me, and I don't like the fact that I hide this part of myself because I never feel like I'm really connected with people. I'm hiding, if that makes sense. Some of the most extroverted, charismatic people I believe that we will ever meet probably still have very guarded parts of themselves that are very lonely parts. So again, long answer to your question. I would say it's a long time journey. We're on an eternal journey of healing. I just turned 51 again. I'm not afraid. I'm happy to be 51. But there are things that I've learned during my 50th year that I didn't know about myself. that have allowed me to be much more free. And that has nothing to do with conflict with anyone else, but I have had inside conflict. And as I have kind of figured those things out personally, I have much more peaceful interacting with others. I'm not looking to defend, accuse, make somebody else responsible for what's inside of me. I just, I feel like I'm acting for myself. And so I think there's one line, if you don't mind, if I'll, this, okay. So in second Nephi two, I was actually, I'm teaching a class at BYU and we were talking about freedom, the freedom to choose. And Jen, I know you were talking about that, but in second Nephi two 26, It says, and the Messiah cometh in the fullness of time that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall, they have become free forever, knowing good and evil to act for themselves and not to be acted upon. I kind of, I shared that in my forties, I realized I'd lived by some false doctrines that I was responsible for all the negativity I felt or whatever. But when I read this and it said, If I choose to be redeemed, if I really choose the atonement to be redeemed from the fall, but every, every aspect of the fall, of all the false things I've been taught, all the things I've said to myself that are incorrect, that have ruined my peace, it says they have become free forever, knowing good from evil. And that's an eventual process. Like even again, like in my fifties, I'm like, wow, how am I so much happier and so much more willing to look at what's right and wrong about how I interact with people and how I interact with myself to have peace. I don't know if that makes sense, but it's been an interesting thing to say. I'm not, I don't have to be a slave to how I grew up. I don't have to be a slave to how people treated me and how I reacted to them. If I accept the atonement, I really can change. I really can be fully redeemed in not just kind of this like narrow gospel sense, but in the sense of my whole soul being open up to the human experience. Anyway, that's my, I don't know if you have any thoughts about that.

(49:18-50:10) Patrick Mason: That's beautiful. And it reminds me, and we don't have time to get into all of this, but there's differences between, say, conflict resolution and conflict transformation. And the message, what I'm hearing here from you and from these verses is, God doesn't just want us to do all that we can to make our problems go away. It's not an eternal game of whack-a-mole, where we're just trying to hit the things and so they disappear. But instead, it's transforming. We're still subject to the fall, right? We still live in this world, but we're redeeming those things. We're transforming those things. We're channeling them into healthier relationships. And as you say, and it begins with the relationship with ourself. And that's what brings a new kind of freedom to us. So I love that.

(50:10-51:15) Jennifer Thomas: Yeah, and I just really appreciate that. I think that that's also where opposition comes into it. Part of this resolution that we have to come to involves dealing with the opposition we talked about at the very beginning. And without that opposition, we actually don't have the opportunity to undergo the process you just talked about, Emily. I mean, everything that you have experienced and the process that you narrated for us, you went through feeling pain and then finding your way to truth. And it is unreasonable. You talked about arriving at a point in your life where you just feel so much better about yourself and you feel better about where you are. And I think it's important for people to understand that you only got there because you felt bad. And then you figured out how to exercise agency and learn and grow to get to a point where you could feel good. And that's the journey we're all on. And we would be very infantilized if we didn't have the opportunity to do that. And I think it's just such a gift that we have that opportunity to experience opposition and grow and get to a place where we're stronger, better, and more like our true selves.

(51:15-56:04) Emily Taylor: Yes, it's the contrast. So I have a daughter on a mission and she was with a member who shared an analogy that really helped her. And I think it relates here to kind of like we're building up our muscles. So this church member in Iowa where my sister, well, not my sister, my daughter is serving, she was going through a hard stage of her life and she was visiting with her friends who had just had a new baby and they were giving their baby tummy time. And so the baby's on the belly, its belly hates it, like absolutely hates it. And it's just like wailing and like wanting to get off its belly, but it can't. Physically cannot flip over yet, right? But to flip over, you actually have to have belly muscles, right? So, and she's observing her friend, you know, this young dad patting this baby, kneeling by the baby and like kind of patting the baby on the back. And she had just had this stark, like realization That's how I am in my current trial. But God is not going to flip me back over until I have the muscles that will allow me to do that very thing myself. So trust, like that trust in God that he's going to teach me. Again, we say line upon line. to teach me the real truth. If I've been taught false doctrines, meaning like I've told myself false things, false stories about myself, as I shed those, and he replaces them with true narratives about how the things, things as they really are, and as they really will be, you know, God emphasizes that in the scriptures, I'm going to live a better life. If I can master these laws, the laws of, say, for example, one other area that's really changed me in terms of conflict resolution recently is the idea of do unto others as you would have done to you. And you know, people come up with the platinum rule and all this stuff, but in regards to the golden rule, I am a more firm believer that my choices only affect me is an optical illusion. It's an illusion that the choices I make do not affect you or you, even across cyberspace or whatever. And so when Jesus is teaching do unto others as you would have done to you, he's actually teaching the very things that you do to others you are doing to yourself. That truth really has changed how I see conflict. So when I feel this venom boiling inside me, when I feel an injustice done to myself, When I think about my reaction, do I want to lash out and like destroy this other person, right? Or do I want to destroy myself? There's no, there's nothing in that that reflects the gospel. So I, I want to treat myself gently, but I also want to treat the other people around me gently. And I see the, the teachings of our savior and the covenants, even that the father's given us and laid out in the book of Mormon. He's saying this is the pathway to peace, but you cannot go around it. If you want to become a peacemaker, you must go through the opposition. And none of it, stop wasting your time judging yourself and everybody else for the trials and conflicts they have. Instead, please focus on constructing the very life you want to live. You are creators. One of my favorite, forgive me, like one of my favorite comments ever made in a general conference or any kind of talk was Elder Uchtdorf. I think he was President Uchtdorf at the time, but he said, you are sons and daughters of the most creative being in the universe. I'm paraphrasing. But he related that you get to create. What kind of relationships do you want? And so when I learned about these tools, again, I spent 40 years trying to create my own tools or just accepting the tools that people had somehow shared with me here and there. I was like, these are tools that are really useful. They've already changed my life. So that's why I've dedicated my professional life to it, right? Patrick would probably say the same, like, and Jen, yes, with your work that it's like, I want, I don't want anyone else to have to suffer in silence and resentment if it's not necessary. And I think a lot of our suffering is unnecessary because we tell ourselves false stories.

(56:04-56:48) Patrick Mason: Yeah. That's fantastic. So as we start to move to the end here, I just want to ask a couple of last questions. So one, you've talked about how hard this is, not only for yourself going through this, but now as a mediator, you're part of a lot of hard conversations. Generally, people don't come to mediation when everything is going great. Right. And so you see people in opposition, you hear hard things, you see the kind of damage that's done. So can you just talk about what motivates you and inspires you and keeps you going as a peacemaker?

(56:48-59:06) Emily Taylor: I think it's the little miracles, like, say for when I see the process of people sharing their perspectives with respect, not interrupting each other, asking each other thoughtful questions about where they're coming from, and then identifying true need, and then brainstorming ideas, and then trying to come up with an agreement. That's the basic of mediation. Like, just around Christmas time, I was doing a family mediation with adult children, parents, grandchild involved, And as I suspended my disbelief that they could kind of come to anything, when they actually did start, usually people start, they talk to the mediator at first and they're like, okay, the mediator's on my side. They're going to like, and then as, but as, as it's interesting, cause they start shifting to looking at each other. So first they're just looking at me and like talking to me. And then I, I see this shift. and they start talking to each other. They're kind of like crying and working through this. It's a miracle, but it's not a miracle that needs like a crazy amount of skill that no one could do it. I actually think if you can learn to listen, you can take turns. That's why I, again, like I'm not selling my book, but I wrote this book Raising Mediators because the research shows a child as young as three can imitate positive mediation type behavior. They have to have a model, but just like you learn words by imitation, we can start, like, I don't have to be 40 and change how I do things. I could teach a child as young as three, and they could start using that kind of behavior, like, oh, I heard you say, Patrick, that this was really important to you. What do you think about that? my child could could do those things and it's been crazy every once in a while we're not perfect crazy when I see my my kids ask me the same type of questions I try to ask them and it's like oh so that gives me motivation it's the actual use of it in little teeny daily interactions that you're like oh this works. Like, I want to do it more. So yeah.

(59:06-59:46) Jennifer Thomas: Well, thank you, Emily. We have so appreciated having you with us today. It's just been really remarkable, the wisdom that you've shared. And hopefully people who are new to this idea that conflict isn't all bad will leave this episode seeing it as something that they don't need to avoid, but that something that is one of the gifts that's been given to them to sort of create themselves, honestly, to be created and become fuller people. So we want to finish with the question that we always end on, and that is, we've talked a little bit about what your definition of peace is, but where do you go and what do you do to find it, to access it for yourself?

(59:46-01:01:11) Emily Taylor: So many things. I walk in my mountains. I love my dog. I spend time with my children. I meditate and imagine conversations with God. That probably most of all. I've recently increased in my capacity to imagine a true discussion with Heavenly Father, which is something the prophet talked about recently. Rather than praying to a concept, I feel like I'm praying to an actual being. Like some of the passages we talked about, when I receive pure truth, I know that my chance for peace is increased. So I want to be as close to those sources as possible. Even listening to beautiful music, I try to fill my life with as many, like I have pictures all around this room of my loved ones, beautiful places and memories. I had good chocolate. Like, so it's like, it's like everything that I can do with my different senses, but the heart is to be connected to my true identity. And that I imagine someday returning to my father and feeling comfortable with him. And I know that I can't do that just by myself, but those, those are the sources of my greatest peace.

(01:01:12-01:01:29) Patrick Mason: That's incredible. I love that. Thanks for sharing that. Thanks for sharing all of your wisdom and your expertise. I think this is just so helpful for people to hear these framings and the way that it's made such a difference in your life. So thanks, Emily, for being with us today.

(01:01:29-01:01:35) Emily Taylor: Thanks for taking my stories. It's the only way I know how to do it. Absolutely.

(01:01:35-01:01:36) Jennifer Thomas: They were fantastic.

(01:01:39-01:01:58) Patrick Mason: Thanks everybody for listening today. We really appreciate it. We just want to invite you to subscribe to the podcast and also to rate and review it. We love hearing feedback from listeners, so please email us at podcast at mweg.org. We also want to invite you to think about ways that you can make peace in your life this week. Thanks for listening and we'll see you next time.

(01:02:04-01:02:19) Jennifer Thomas: Thank you for listening to Proclaim Peace, a proud member of the Faith Matters Podcast Network. Faith Matters holds expansive conversations about the restored gospel to accompany individuals on their journey of faith. You can learn more about Faith Matters and check out our other shows at faithmatters.org.



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