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Telling your story: A strategy for conflict resolution‏‏

פרצה בחומה

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Each year I publish the following strategy for conflict resolution and each year I receive reactions of how surprised people are when it works. Dael Cohen, who first brought this strategy to my attention, described it as follows:
"Often in life everything seems stuck. That's also the case in this week's Torah portion, Vayigash, when it appears that there is no way out. The brothers find themselves trapped by the Egyptian viceroy who stubbornly insists on taking their youngest brother, Binyamin, as his slave. It is not at all clear how this crisis can be resolved.
Often we find ourselves in the midst of difficult and wearisome negotiations. This can involve an employee's request for a pay raise, a soldier's desire to join a platoon commander training course, or a convict's plea before a judge. You feel trapped between walls of strict laws or uncompromising procedures. What can be done? When you reach the point where it hurts, you cry out.
Our Torah portion begins with these words. 'Then Yehuda approached him.' Yehuda simply approaches the Egyptian viceroy and cries out from the depths of his heart. Yehuda tells the whole story, with all its nuances and complexities included. He holds nothing back and speaks with sincerity, shares his feelings and fears, and is not embarrassed to articulate his distress.
And then the unbelievable happens: Yosef cannot restrain himself any longer and reveals that the intransigent Egyptian viceroy is none other than their long lost brother. The brothers are deeply moved, weep, reunite, and everything turns out for the best. Just two minutes before, Yehuda could not imagine that something like this would ever happen.
When we start to speak truthfully and with full force, to sincerely share our story -- suddenly walls of division and conflict collapse. Try this at home and see for yourself."


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