I DID IT MY WAY




                                    by

                          Lisa Anderson-Umana


              ...
CONTENTS


I DID IT MY WAY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ....
I DID IT MY WAY


               Just like the lyrics to that familiar tune, we both wanted it our way. Rixy

Leiva, a res...
2


                I tried to get the rest of the team members to concur with my perspective and

did so to varying degre...
3


again with a letter, shortly thereafter she arrived to my home in Honduras for a face to face

visit. She was on her w...
4


breakdown to her natural resistance to “Yankee imperialism” and imposition. During the

civil war in El Salvador she h...
5


her fascination and love for God’s word and for learning new things, it proved to be a good

bonding experience, and w...
REFERENCES



Elmer, Duane. 1993. Cross-culural conflict: Building relationships for effective ministry.
       Downers Gr...
I Did It My Way A Cross Cultural Relational Breakdown
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I Did It My Way A Cross Cultural Relational Breakdown

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This paper describes in some detail a conflict I had with a co-worker in El Salvador and how we resolved it.

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I Did It My Way A Cross Cultural Relational Breakdown

  1. 1. I DID IT MY WAY by Lisa Anderson-Umana BS Penn State University, 1982 Master’s in Educational Ministries, Wheaton College Graduate School, 1994 PRE-CLASS ASSIGNMENT—A RELATIONAL BREAKDOWN Submitted to the faculty in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Deerfield, Illinois December 2007
  2. 2. CONTENTS I DID IT MY WAY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 The incident. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 “Carefronting” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Her perspective-My perspective. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 The core issue. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 The reconciliation process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 REFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 iii
  3. 3. I DID IT MY WAY Just like the lyrics to that familiar tune, we both wanted it our way. Rixy Leiva, a resident of El Salvador, and I are both of similar temperament: drivers, Type A or cholerics. Here’s a snippet of our conversation to illustrate the point. The incident I toss the hand-typed schedule on the table (a major cultural offense to kick off our first round), “Rixy, I cannot believe you have programmed this workshop for just two days time, you were with me in Honduras when we took a four-day long weekend and were barely able to accomplish our teaching goals. How do you propose to accomplish the same goals in significantly less time?” Rixy digs in her heels and puts on her “boxing gloves”, ready to enter the ring, she replies, “I went through the entire schedule that we had taught together last year and can assure you that all the salient aspects have been integrated into this new schedule. I realize it is a short weekend but we have no other option. The brochures have been sent out and arrangements with the camp made so we cannot change them.” I glanced around at the others gathered around the table, who were smiling. I assumed I had their support so I charged on, going head to head with Rixy discussing each point, waxing eloquent on the rationale behind each of the sections pertaining to this training of low ropes course facilitators. On and on we went, each defending her point. Soon the others left the table to place their orders for more chicken and soft drinks. After a while, Rixy went into retreat and I could not get her to further discuss the issues, she conceded that I was after all “the expert” but even so the dates and time frame could not be changed. 1
  4. 4. 2 I tried to get the rest of the team members to concur with my perspective and did so to varying degrees but mostly they remained on the sidelines. The evening was warm as we pushed open the exit doors of Burger King. We had moved on to discuss other subjects. Rixy and I had smiled at each other. But, I felt a chill in the air. I left the restaurant ill at ease, convinced that I was right but sensing something was wrong. The next morning I succeeded in getting a hold of Rixy, she came over to our mutual friend’s house to say good-bye since I was to return to Honduras the next afternoon. I pursued her with further questions, trying to get her perspective on the incident the night before but she would not budge. If I wanted to talk about it anymore, I would have to take the initiative and send her a cassette first. This was the way we had kept in touch for the last twelve years, ever since I lived in El Salvador in 1993 and left in 1995. She promised to respond and I left with a heavy heart. “Carefronting” Little did I know that this “incident” would serve me well in Duane Elmer’s class on Cross-cultural conflict. Elmer (1993, 43) describes a direct approach to resolving conflict that served us very well to “carefront” each other. The following pages will detail how each of us perceived the conflict, what the core issue was, what values were threatened in our conflict and how we resolved it. The incident took place in El Salvador in March of this year. Given the fact that we live in different countries, we used an indirect means of communicating. As per our agreement four months later I sent a cassette to her, to which she responded with a letter since her tape player was broken! I replied to her letter with another tape which she answered
  5. 5. 3 again with a letter, shortly thereafter she arrived to my home in Honduras for a face to face visit. She was on her way to a neighboring city to teach a Precept on Precept course for Inductive Bible Study so we were both delighted to take advantage of a short visit prior to her engagement. One of the core values we both share is a strong commitment to preserve the relationship. Even though we are both task drivers, over the years we have enjoyed combining efforts to dispassionately analyze many issues related to our ministries, families and personal lives. We were bound and determined to reason with one another, separating the issue of the training schedule from the relational issue in play. Our goal was two fold, let us understand what happened as well as further strengthen the gift God has given us: our friendship. Her perspective—My perspective Rixy perceived the problem to be one of temperaments. She is a licensed psychologist and is very familiar with Tim LaHaye’s four temperaments (sanguine, melancholy, choleric, phlegmatic). In her mind since I was choleric, my inclination was to control. Her perspective was not so much that I was a North American and she was a Salvadorian, but that I was Lisa Anderson-Umana, a choleric. I had a position and I would not be moved from it. To a smaller degree, when pressed, she did concede that the fact that since we were arguing over time and schedule, she wondered if our different orientations to time was a factor (event vs. clock). I perceived the problem to be one of cultural differences. I do not know if it was the phenomenon of studying something and then becoming more aware of its presence that made me perceive the issue to be more cultural in nature but initially I attributed our
  6. 6. 4 breakdown to her natural resistance to “Yankee imperialism” and imposition. During the civil war in El Salvador she had been a “sympathesizer” of the Left which had been something we had consistently had to dance around, so she was sensitive to any sense of imposition. My image of her was that of a donkey digging in its heels, determined not to budge under pressure. Unfortunately, I connected a previous power struggle I had had with her plus my inside knowledge of several incidents she had had with co-workers to draw a firm conclusion in my mind that she was just being stubborn and incompliant with me. The core issue The core issue in our conflict, we both concurred was a power struggle. We both wanted our way. I had used a very direct, confrontational approach, seeking her loss and my gain in our argument regarding what the teaching format should be. The breakdown occured and our values were threatened when several things took place. First, it got personal when she saw me search the faces of the rest of team for approval, seeking their approval of my posture. Her secondary temperament is melancholy. So, she felt ashamed and humiliated. I felt the breakdown occur when she was in full retreat and she made a comment like: “Well, you are the expert, I mean, you are getting your Ph.D….” When I heard that comment I was faced with the real possibility that I was indeed coming off as arrogant and know-it-all. I distinctly remember feeling like it stopped being just an argument and was actually threatening our treasured friendship. The process of reconciliation Seven months later, when she arrived at our home, we spent a number of hours reviewing the eight different conflict resolutions methods in Elmer’s book (1993). I translated the highlights and we read the Biblical passages supporting each approach. Given
  7. 7. 5 her fascination and love for God’s word and for learning new things, it proved to be a good bonding experience, and we both commented on the importance of making “regular deposits” to our friendship account, since when conflict came, we would have enough balance to cover the withdrawals. As we communicated late into the night, God’s Spirit convicted me. I became acutely aware of how much my own carnal nature played a key role, if not a primary role, in our conflict. God began to remind me of incidences of my insensitivity, like when I tossed down the schedule of the table, I was demonstrating a lack of respect for her labor. She had commented that she had gone through each and every section of the master teaching agenda, carefully retyping each segment into the time frame that was available to them and yet I showed no affirmation or appreciation for that painstaking labor. When she shared her heart she explained that she felt bad because the rest of the group did not support her, even though they had all worked on it, she was left to “fight me alone.” The smiles I had perceived as approval were rather embarrassment at the fact that they knew beforehand there would be a confrontation and they chose to leave Rixy “battle” by herself. I started to cry. I felt ashamed by my behavior. It was not very “pilgrim” of me indeed. I had hurt their feelings and created a reputation for myself as being “hard to confront.” I asked forgiveness for each aspect God brought to mind. She asked for forgiveness as well for closing down and withdrawing. We discussed in detail how we should have approached the issue and each other for future reference. We both affirmed how God’s power is perfected in our weaknesses, praying together. We spent the remainder of our visit celebrating God’s gift of friendship.
  8. 8. REFERENCES Elmer, Duane. 1993. Cross-culural conflict: Building relationships for effective ministry. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press. 6

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