So here’s an interesting dilemma. I am used to mediating other people’s disputes so what do I do when I have my own dispute? That is the current situation and it’s set to go public.

David and I arranged our wedding in a gorgeous bay called Mgarr-ix-xini on the Island of Gozo. It’s where we escape to. With 3 months to go, flights booked, guests travel plans in place and having been given the all clear by the local council back in April, we were suddenly notified – when the caterer went to formalise the permit a couple of weeks ago  – that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have taken over the area for 2 months and our wedding could not take place as planned. Feeling disappointed and indignant I gave myself space to reflect on my needs and to see what was really upsetting about this situation.

My reflections enlightened me in this way: I was feeling sad and upset because my needs for acknowledgement and fairness were going unmet. David and I carefully chose our venue and now we were being elbowed out of the way without any compassion for our situation or empathy for our disappointment let alone any offer of help to solve the problem. I realised that no one would know this unless I said something so my immediate need became to be heard.

With that in mind, I posted on Facebook and emailed the Malta Prime Minister to see if I could be heard. Friends shared my plight and the Times of Malta ran a story. The Prime Minister put the Malta Film Commissioner in touch with me. My need to be heard and acknowledged was being met but not by anyone who could make a difference. I do not see this as an issue with the Malta government. I’m not interested in the legalities of the situation or blaming anyone. I see this as an emotional issue – a conversation from one woman to another. A friend suggested I call their publicists so I called the office of Rich Klubeck at UTA who I was told was Angelina’s publicist and within 3 to 4 sentences my call was disconnected. I clearly cannot say for certain that he hung up on me but I immediately called back  and was directed to voicemail and I clearly left my return number and have had no call back so I think it might be fair to assume that he hung up on me.

So the act of him hanging up (or just not calling back if the line was accidentally disconnected) triggered in me a sense of outrage highlighting my unmet need to be heard by someone who can make a difference to my situation. Now I want to be heard even more. Hanging up on me did not make me go away or forget my issue, it increased my determination to be heard and to be treated fairly and now added another unmet need – respect.

By this time the Facebook post had generated interest from the media and I can see this as a means to getting heard. Now it might appear that I’m escalating a situation where all I wanted was a conversation with someone who could help but so far it’s the best strategy I can think of to get heard in the right place.

I have no idea what the outcome will be but I do want to keep tabs on my own feelings, needs and actions as this situation progresses.

 

The key things for me in this have been to:

  • Identify how I’m feeling and be OK with those feelings without acting on them
  • Identify the unmet needs before deciding on a strategy
  • Check that the strategy is likely to help get the need met and not make things worse
  • Check that the action related to the strategy is in line with my own values before implementing

 

I wondered if this might be a good basis for reflecting when an issue arises and we feel triggered by it?

It seems to me that often, people don’t get past the first point before acting and this is what escalates a dispute into a fight.

 

What do you think?


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