What If Today…You Quit Refereeing?

Her heart was heavy. Tears flowed over quiet sobs. “She’s leaving and we didn’t even get to spend any time together. She promised! She cut my hair, but that’s not spending time together. I know that she doesn’t like me.”

“I tried,” said the other. “I really wanted to see my friends, too. No matter how much I do, it’s never enough! I love my family and my friends are important to me, too. Everyone thinks I don’t love them.”

Ugh! My heart broke for the two of them!

Earlier in the week  I was invited onto a rollercoaster of other people’s emotion-packed misunderstandings. This was only one example. It’s not a place I like to be, mostly because it takes willingness on the person who wants to be heard and to have things fixed, to also hear and see what they are thinking and saying that has contributed to the divisive situation or misunderstanding.

And that, I have learned, rarely happens quickly or easily, especially if I’m in the middle.

Instead, people look for agreement to validate feelings about an “attack” from somebody else, or justification for something they’ve said or done that was misinterpreted.

“But she promised!” she insisted over and over.

“She’s always complaining!” said the other, feet firmly planted on her side.

And that puts me in the position of referee.

These days even the best referees have an added advantage of watching a recorded replay to shed some light on the facts. But we don’t have that technology available to us day at home with our families or at work with our colleagues.

So, what’s a referee to do?

Quit or change tactics. That’s my suggestion.

At least we can stop the ego from puffing us up to believe that we can resolve differences better than the two involved. ‘Cause you know what? People typically do what they want. Even with the facts in plain sight, there might be an internal dialogue or a self-esteem issue that needs to be handled that no amount of coaching or refereeing can fix without awareness on the part of the “offender” first.

What about changing my job altogether? What if I held up a mirror instead of a solution?

I love this (from Luke 6:42)

“Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.”

What if I pointed out the facts, helped to identify the emotions and feelings that are each person’s private responsibility, and encouraged solutions based on what can be done, not on how people felt?

What if I resigned as a referee in  Mote Detection,  and became a coach in IntraPersonal Beam Discovery? (PMD for short :).} I’ll bet it pays better…

I wonder, wonder, wonder. Would it help?

(P.S. I did practice the new approach in the above situation, and there was instantaneous humilty on one person’s part. It was a start.)

What do you think?

  • Are you often put in the middle of misunderstandings and / or disagreements?
  • Have you shifted from referee to coach, or is there an even better solution?

Just askin’….



8 thoughts on “What If Today…You Quit Refereeing?

  1. Justice requires that we knowingly and willfully respect the rights and dignity of others. And justice, I believe, is the cornerstone of relationship, culture and community. AND it is more than that. Justness is also a cornerstone of our own moral character, our measure of good, our own perfection, and happiness. Justice, however, is one of the most difficult virtues to make a habit of. Because considering the rights and dignity of another (with whom we are in conflict) often contradicts our own interests.

    The resolution of human conflict (or attempt), therefore, must serve, grow and nurture justice as a result and virtue. And to serve others in this regard, I believe, is profoundly worthwhile.

  2. Justice and justness. Interesting. I’m seeing (and experiencing) a thread of maturity and awareness that is needed to help to “serve, grow and nurture justice as a result and virtue.”<your words.
    I found, as I reviewed the other situations where this came up, that people really like to find fault because it's easier than trying to understand another's perspective. But once they did stop long enough to consider another way of seeing the problem, and committed to better listening and speaking skills, AND when they admitted that their unwillingness to do that first, was actually exacerbating the problem, hearts were softened. Every time.

    You gave me lots to think about. Thanks, Stan. Have a good one!

  3. Whew..that’s Always! a hard thing/place to be, In the middle. It sure is not my fav. place/thing tto do, although we’ve all been there. How to handle it. I think that depends a whole lot on the people you are in the middle of! Both you and Stan have very good points! I thought this was going to be an easy about kids post…lol..THAT I had an answer for..:)

    As Always ~*~

    • I found ths post half-finished this morning as I was starting another and thought, “What the heck, finish it and press publish.” And, voila! Here it is. I think the next one will be lighter! 🙂

    • As I said on G+…that’s because you’re a guy! You gave me a new insight! I won’t share either. LOL! I love a good conflict that resolves itself…even if it’s eventually. That’s where and how we learn what’s important to us and what we value and are willing to stand up and fight for. It’s the never-ending back and forth nonsensical arguments that sweep me up and carry me off to play like a badmitton’s birdie that I like to avoid or learn to escape from.
      I think men are much better at this than women. Don’t yo think? I do, now that I thnk of it!

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