Archives For Will Troutman

Conflict

July 25, 2013

A few years back I spent time training with an improv comedy group. I wanted to learn the art of improvisation after having some experience doing sketch comedy. I quickly realized that while improv is essentially making up what you are performing on the fly, there are rules that govern making an entertaining scene. Here is the basic structure:

1. As quickly as you can set the scene and define the relationship.

2. Once the relationship has been defined and the scene progresses, establishing some sort of conflict is vital.

3. Once conflict is established, the scene is shaken up to make it more compelling and take it to the next level. This is referred to as “the tilt”.

4. Finally, finding a place to naturally end the scene with a clever pun or tag line to close out the action.

In essence what I have described above is in a lot of ways the framework of good story telling. However, I find it interesting that while we are so drawn to good story telling in our books, TV and film, we often times struggle to live out our own personal story. I see it frequently in how we deal with conflict. Either we avoid it like the plague or we get into patterns of emotional reactivity that cause a lack of healthy resolution and often more damage.

I believe that if we can learn to do conflict well, that it can lead to richer and more mature relationships that are consistent with the rich and abundant life God desires for us here on earth. Many authors have sought to address this topic and while not an exhaustive list, here are three suggestions that I believe will allow us to tell better stories with our lives.

1. Approach relationships with an attitude of humility

And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

We are all people in need of grace. Checking our motives and attitudes can go a long way when dealing with conflict.

2. There is power in having a sense you’re being heard

Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

When someone is not heard, a conversation becomes a debate and potentially adversarial. God wants us to hear each other’s hearts and seek what is in the best interests of the relationship and not our own selfish desires.

3. It’s completely acceptable to take a break.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

When you find yourself in a heated conversation that is in a sense hitting a wall or standstill, do not be afraid to take a break. I had a professor call it a “Critical Pause”. Walking away from the conflict for an agreed set of time with the purpose of praying and thinking about not only how to communicate more successfully, but to more importantly process how you can seek to hear the other person more effectively.

What story will your life tell?

Will Troutman

Will Troutman

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern View More Posts »
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Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (ESV)

13 If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame. (ESV)

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; (ESV)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (ESV)

Back to Mayberry

November 21, 2012


I was a child of the 80’s. I grew up on a steady intake of 80’s pop culture ranging from Transformers to The Cosby Show. Recently however, I have been enjoying a revisiting of my wife’s formative years, which were very different than my pogo ball and Mr. T infused experience.
Sarah’s childhood was what I would call a throwback experience. Instead of Full House and Perfect Strangers, her parents raised her on a steady diet of Mash, The Andy Griffith Show, Leave it to Beaver and Gomer Pyle. Needless to say, these shows were not even a part of my vocabulary during those years, but for my wife, they were highly quoted and followed religiously.
My introduction to her past has been through DVR recordings of The Andy Griffith Show. At first, I was a little skeptical but was intrigued by the popularity of the show and the classic characters that have been woven into our culture’s DNA. After watching several episodes I have to admit while it holds no nostalgic appeal, there is a certain simplicity and comfort that comes from watching Andy and Barney and the hijinks that ensue.
I was struck by a plot theme in some of the early episodes that I think relates to a potent reality of the human experience. The episodes would center on Andy and his effort to teach his son Opie a life lesson such as honesty, and then later in the show Opie would innocently call Andy out on the same lesson in a conflict that Andy was dealing with. Andy would then try to explain to Opie that it was different because he was an adult and slowly but surely Andy realized that it wasn’t any different and that the principle was the same. For Andy, he believed that what was true for Opie the child wasn’t relevant to Andy the adult. This was a belief that was outside of Andy’s awareness until Opie called Andy on it and brought it to the forefront of Andy’s thinking.
These scenes reminded me of a question that we must ask ourselves. What beliefs do we have about who we are and how we interact with the world around us? What truths hold authority in our lives and where did they come from? Did they come from our parents, a teacher, something a mean kid said on the playground in 4th grade…and are they really true?
A beautiful part of our job and the counseling experience, is to help our clients understand and identify what beliefs they have about themselves and their world and how these beliefs might be causing them to live dysfunctional and unhealthy lives. Part of our calling is to help clients replace lies with truth and shift to a biblical understanding of who they are and how living out of that experience can change their lives.

Will Troutman

Will Troutman

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern View More Posts »
More about Will »