The Best Way to Deescalate Conflict: Take Courage to Act from the Heart

Best way to deescalate conflict
As the winds had calmed down outside, I walked into a windstorm in my local cleaners and encountered an opportunity to test my courage to intervene in a conflict.

 The sun was shining brightly in Herndon, VA. I stopped into my favorite cleaners to drop off a green cloth for pressing. I was preparing to make a series of short videos on race, conflict, and inclusion, subjects that have been getting lots of traction since Election 2016.

An Indian man had entered seconds before me and was being helped by the Korean owner.

“The pants are too short.” He told her.

“I measured thirty inches!” She replied in broken English and with rising agitation.

“I wore these pants here.” He pointed to a second pair stretched on the counter. “You were to fix the blue pants just like these, but they are too short.” By now, he was controlling his frustration.

“I measure thirty!” Her voice scratched the tense air.

She added: “Why are you complaining to me?” She threw down her pen and walked towards me.

Exasperated, she looked at me, ignored him, and said: “I will help this customer.”

The Indian man, with fury in his dark eyes, threw down his keys in anger.

Am I not a customer?!” He asked incredulously.

All of a sudden, he became a Black man to me. He was my brother, one of my sons, a nephew, my husband. Too many times, even I had been on the receiving end of this type of rude and dismissive customer service from a person different than me. I assured the shop owner I was not in a hurry and could wait. I smiled at both of them hoping to thaw their locked grip of conflict. As I watched them verbally jab each other, my mind traveled in time.

Involuntarily, my mind popped up a picture of the incident that split Black and Korean communities in my home city of Los Angeles in 1991 when a Korean convenience store owner gunned down an unarmed Black girl, Latasha Harlins. Harlins was a customer in the Empire Liquor store, a student at Westchester High School in Inglewood, when Soon Ja Du shot her in the back of the head because she thought Harlins was trying to steal a bottle of orange juice. Du saw Harlins slip the juice in her back pack but did not see the money in her hand. A scuffle ensued and Du fired from the back and killed Harlins instantly. Du was fined $500 and given five years of probation. There was no one to intervene.

The open wounds between Black and Korean communities still drip.

The Best Way to Deescalate Conflict

I looked in my knitting bag and pulled out a tape measure. Stretching it, I said: “He is saying the measurement is incorrect.”

She then pulled out her own tape measure to confirm she measured thirty inches. Whether she did or not, one leg was at least five inches shorter.

A Korean man came from the back with the air of a manager.

“What is the problem?” They begin speaking rapidly in Korean. He must have said something she did not like because she waved him off and approached me, again.

At the moment, I said: “You have a wonderful business AND when a customer has a problem, you might want to listen and smile.” I smiled at her. I gestured to my ear and pulled it, hoping it would help her understand.

“He does have a problem and he needs your help.”

The “manager” smiled as if to say “thank you.” The Indian man also smiled.

The “manager” then invited him to try on the perfect fitting pants behind the curtain. He retakes his measurements to solve the problem.

The Korean woman looks at my green cloth and asks if $20 is a fair price. Given its size, I agree.

As I leave, I turn and touch my ear. She smiles and touches hers. The Indian man steps from behind the curtain. His eyes thank me. His smile assures me he will be made whole.

It did not take a degree in psychology or human behavior. It took courage to act from the heart.

When have you taken the courage to act from the heart?

What is the best way to deescalate conflict for you? Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to deescalate conflict? Did you let your heart take the lead?

Please also follow my posts and connect with me on Linkedin. I would love to hear your stories.

International Trade Commission Diversity and Inclusion Week

Internaitional diversity and inclusion facilitator
The International Trade Commission reached out to me to kick off its first-ever International Diversity and Inclusion Week. Nearly 100 employees filled the room to be inspired by the topic:

“Building Bridges across Differences: A Celebration.”

It is a celebration when an organization, especially one with an international focus, devotes a full week to diversity and inclusion. Being selected to launch the week as the international Diversity and Inclusion facilitator inspired me as much as I hope my discussion inspired the audience.

Employees received the following invitation:

International Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Facilitator; Conflict Resolution Specialist

Tamara Smiley Hamilton

Monday, October 21st at 11 AM, Courtroom A

“Building Bridges Across Differences: A Celebration”

Tamara Hamilton is a poet, author, speaker, and coach dedicated to helping people access their personal power. Through stories, word weaving, provocative questioning and more, Tamara guides people on their life journeys. She loves to bear witness to transformation and growth. Please join us as we all gather to gain a new personal and professional perspective on diversity and inclusivity.

International Diversity and Inclusion is all-consuming.

international diversity and inclusion cooking show with Tamara smiley hamilton

International Diversity and Inclusion also INCLUDES enjoying foods from around the world and understanding the stories that connect us. Coming soon: a cooking show to connect us in more ways than one!

Let’s all do this together! Stay inspired with 7 Blocks for Building Bridges.

aroundtheworld foods #couragetv hashtagpeace hashtagrace hashtagunderstanding hashtagconnect hashtagdiversityandinclusion hashtagcookingshow hashtagdrthaodo#couragetv

Facilitator for Conflict Resolution – Peace Coach Tamara Smiley Hamiton

Tamara Smiley Hamilton conflict resolutionTamara Smiley Hamilton was honored by the National Rotary to have an interview featured as an article in the July 2019 edition of Rotary Magazine, The Rotarian.

“It is good to recall the paths that converged into diversity and inclusion as a central part of my peace journey.”

– Tamara Smiley Hamilton

Color Conscious Peace Coach!

Visit the National Rotary Clubs website to explore the July 2019 Rotarian Magazine and read more on Tamara Smiley Hamiton’s experience as a facilitator, coach, speaker, and trainer. You will see why Tamara is a sought after facilitator for conflict resolution, diversity and inclusion, and empowerment training. She is not only the Peace Coach, but she is also the Color-Conscious Peace Coach!

Did you know Tamara Smiley Hamilton is also an Accredited Speaker through Toastmasters International? 

Rotarian Magazine Designates Tamara S. Hamilton Peace Coach

peace coach tamara smiley hamilton

The July 2019 issue of The Rotarian Magazine features an article with Tamara S. Hamilton. Dubbing her the ‘Peace Coach’ the article speaks to Tamara’s lifelong learning and desire to promote peace and understanding between all cultures.

The story begins with Tamara’s personal experience of the Watts Riots, in 1965 Watts, Los Angeles California. Further details of Tamara’s dedication to peace and inclusion in her studies and her career are highlighted. Read more here on the International Rotary website. 

If your corporate or civic organization is looking for a Color-Conscious Peace Coach, to discuss the undiscussable about race and gender, contact Tamara S. Hamilton. Peace Coach, Tamara can facilitate meetings or speak to large audiences and provide customized coaching.

“I convene conversations on race in order to enhance employee engagement and morale. “ – Tamara S. Hamilton

Contact Peace Coach Tamara today! Remember to subscribe to Tamara’s newsletter for information on color conscious peace coaching tips to address diversity and race relations with grace, influential events, and more. Find the blue subscription box near the bottom of the TamaraSHamilton.com home page.

Becoming a Color Conscious Coach

Join Color Conscious Coach, Tamara Smiley Hamilton, MA, AS on Wednesday, January 30, 2019, at 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM, for this webinar. Color Conscious Coach, Tamara will be presenting via the Zoom platform for International Coach Federation (ICF) Maryland Chapter. Members and non-members are welcome to join the conversation about becoming a color conscious coach.

Some questions to ponder…

  • Are you reluctant to advance powerful questions related to race and inclusion during the coaching engagement?
  • Are you hesitant to name the racial elephant in the room?
  • Are you stuck in your own story that you are NOT the right coach if the person is racially different from you?
  • Do you want to be empowered to discuss the undiscussable?
  • Are you curious about how race shows up in the coaching engagement and pushed aside for fear of being vulnerable to not knowing where the conversation will go?

If you can nod “yes” to any of these questions, join ICF Maryland for an intriguing conversation with Tamara Smiley Hamilton, an expert in coaching in race space. Tamara will share stories and insights, ask powerful questions, and demonstrate how to frame and name issues related to race and non-inclusion. She will support your journey towards becoming a color conscious coach. Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of the webinar, coaches will:

  • Increase their understanding of racial formation and the generational trauma that resides in clients of color, notably African American clients
  • Enhance their understanding of why being a color conscious coach is critical in the current reality in the US and globally
  • Examine their internal landscape on race and begin the pruning process
  • Have a beginning knowledge of the power of questions in the context of diversity and inclusion
  • Create a new story as a color conscious coach.

This webinar is designed to support coaches seeking to gain a better understanding of how they can be more impactful with their clients when race and diversity may be contributing factors to a client’s capacity to move forward. It will support coaches who want to examine their own interior landscapes to begin the pruning process to remove the weeds that entangle them from seeing color with their clients. It addresses the fear and the hesitation that some coaches have reported as barriers. As the first Color Conscious Coach, Tamara will provide examples of framing and naming during the coaching engagement.

About Your Color Conscious Coach

Tamara Smiley Hamilton, MA, AS, is a global coach, facilitator and professional speaker. Her work has been appreciated on military bases in Korea, German, and Japan. Tamara is the founder and CEO of Audacious Coaching LLC, a professional services firm addressing inclusive conflict resolution. As a conflict resolution specialist and as a diversity and sensitivity leadership coach, she helps senior leaders to transform their thinking about race and inclusion. She is often called upon to create and facilitate healing circles when race relations become toxic to an organization’s culture. Coaching is a key component to addressing wounds inflicted by non-inclusive work environments.

Along with her expertise as the Color Conscious Coach, Tamara is an Accredited Speaker with Toastmasters International, a designation held by only 81 people out of a membership of 366,000 worldwide. She uses her global platform to speak on “Creating Inclusive Communities.” She is the recipient of the James H. Laue Endowment Scholarship from the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. This honored award is given to graduate students who continue the peacebuilding work of the late Dr. Laue, a founder of the conflict resolution field. Tamara came of age during the Watts Rebellion of 1965 and has dedicated her life’s work to build bridges connecting the human spirit. Her work is taking her to Rwanda in Central Africa to greater understand the power of forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation after violent ethnic conflict.

Additional Color Conscious Coaching Links:

The Race Whisperer: Getting people comfortable talking about race

Tamara Smiley Hamilton

Tamara’s Linkedin Account

A Note from Tamara: As an African American woman who is a coach, my expert knowledge relates to African Americans. As the Color Conscious Coach, I am committed to helping all coaches break through perceived race boundaries with their clients. I am a Black Studies major: BA, Scripps College, 1974; African Studies and Research, MA, Howard University, 1976; Communications Management, Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California, 1981; Executive Leadership, Georgetown University, 2009; Advanced Coaching Certificate in Leadership and Well-Being, George Mason University, 2014. I am currently completing a Masters in Conflict Resolution at George Mason University (2019) with a focus on race relations in the United States. This webinar does not intend to project expert knowledge of all people of color but expertise within the African American context.

Tickets:

ICF Maryland Chapter Webinar Becoming a Color Conscious Coach

$30.00 ICF Maryland Member
$30.00 ICF Global Member
$40.00 Non-Member / Guest

RSVP for Becoming a Color Conscious Coach here.

Creating Better Social Worlds

creating better social worlds Personal Power build one relationship at a time cross differences.
The complexity of our nation and the world demands focused attention on making things better, especially racial divisions. Each of us has the personal power to build one relationship at a time across differences, to hold one conversation at a time. It’s the small steps that matter. I recently took a step by presenting research on an example from my own community: Watts, CA. Here basketball is a magnet for attracting a global community in an environment of peace. This is where a better social world is created one game at a time.

Forgiveness One Story At A Time

-forgiveness one story at a time - how do we forgive racial tension

How Do We Forgive?

The countdown has begun. My feet will touch African soil in the country of Rwanda on December 29th. I already know that this will be a transformative experience as I meet with both victims and perpetrators of the 1994 genocide when neighbors committed the worst atrocities against one another. More than one million people were slaughtered with crude weapons of war in a ninety-day period.

Somehow, they found the power to forgive. They found a way to heal and to move forward together. There is no more ethnic recognition of Tutsis and Hutus. They are now one Rwanda. How did this happen? At the core of their forgiveness was the ability for victims to share their stories of grief, trauma, and devastation while the perpetrators listened. The road to this point is revealed in the video, “As We Forgive.” It is required viewing for my study group of fourteen students and citizens traveling under the auspices of George Mason University.

Forgiveness grows when we share our stories

“What project do you want to pursue?” Al Fuertes, my professor, inquired. Without hesitation, I said “I want to talk with storytellers and artists, women especially, who have found a sense of identity when all has been ripped away: husbands, children, parents, lovers, and friends. How do they tell their new stories of resilience?”

All of us face loss and disappointment. Some have faced the unbearable. How do we keep putting one foot in front of the other under the most adverse circumstances? I work with organizations where one co-worker cannot forgive another. I work with teams that are divided because of unresolved racial tension. But, in Rwanda, forgiveness has occurred one story at a time. When we look at our own lives, who needs to forgive us and to whom do we need to extend the olive branch? Have you calculated the cost of remaining stuck in your hurt story? I would love to read your responses. I will share my learning journey through this blog while gaining insight into the power of healing and forgiveness in Rwanda.

Forgive: The new practice and mantra for Black Men | Kosmos Quarterly

Forgive Kosmos Quarterly Article

By Ulysses ‘Butch’ Slaughter and Tamara S. Hamilton

At the fragile age of 12, Ulysses Slaughter listened as his mother Clarice was shot to death by his father Ulysses Grant Slaughter Sr. Emerging from his bedroom, he watched as life flowed out of his mother. Stepping over her body that day was the first act in his amazing odyssey toward forgiveness.

Read More

FIVE EXPERIENCED SPEAKERS SHOW THE WAY

banner graphic from:speakermagazine.com

BY TAMARA SMILEY HAMILTON, MA
This Article by Tamara Smiley Hamilton is an Excerpted from Speaker Magazine – National Speakers Association (Banner Graphic Credit: NSA Speaker Magazine)

When six of seven global finalists advance to the coveted circle of Accredited Speaker and your name is not called, you are grateful for a dimly lit ballroom.

These were the words I wrote in my journal the night I did not receive the designation as an Accredited Speaker (AS) from Toastmasters International. The feeling was unfamiliar, because most things I want in life and truly prepare for, I achieve. For this endeavor, I was not prepared emotionally, nor was I at the depth of my craft. I underestimated the magnitude of what I was pursuing.

Perhaps I am not alone in misjudging the rigor of becoming an Accredited Speaker. What I do know is that I grew exponentially as a speaker because of the journey. And the journey continues.

Some people think Toastmasters is only for the beginning speaker. For many, including some very accomplished NSA members, it is a road worth traveling. Come along and see for yourself.

WHAT DO YOU KNOW? WHOM DO YOU KNOW?

Toastmasters International is the world’s leading leadership development and communications organization, with 350,000 members in 142 countries. NSA founder Cavett Robert, CSP, CPAE, was a Toastmaster and was crowned the 1942 World Champion of Public Speaking.

Many NSA members are accomplished Toastmasters. The ideas in this article come from five who have achieved one or both of the highest designations or awards a Toastmaster can achieve: Accredited Speaker and World Champion of Public Speaking.

  • Darren LaCroix, CSP, won the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking and earned Accredited Speaker in 2016. He is the first NSA member to hold the CSP and the AS designations along with the World Championship of Public Speaking.
  • Rochelle Rice, MA, CSP, NSA board member, is the only woman in the world to hold both the CSP and the AS designations.
  • Sheryl Roush earned Accredited Speaker in 1993 and is a global ambassador for Toastmasters.
  • Ed Tate, CSP, is the 2000 World Champion of Public Speaking.
  • Peter Barron Stark, CSP, earned the Accredited Speaker in 1990.

All are devoted NSA members, and all know a secret: Toastmasters is not a club solely for rookies. It’s a powerhouse for practice. “There is enormous opportunity from participating in both organizations,” says Rice, who says the AS designation has played a huge role in building her business.

Read More

In the Light | Kosmos Advising Editor, Tamara Hamilton & Kosmos LIVE Podcast

Unlearning with Tamara S Hamilton

On Unlearning…

“What do we need to unlearn– about people, about reconciliation, about what we think we know for sure? Unlearning is a pilgrimage into our own inner landscape to see where we might need to prune our assumptions and clear a less treacherous path through this complex time. What might we unlearn in community, in communication and in solidarity with others? This idea is very fluid, but also holds the potential to shift mindsets and to open new vistas.” – Tamara Hamilton

Tamara Smiley Hamilton MA, is a professional speaker dedicated to giving voice to the voiceless. She is the CEO of Audacious Coaching LLC and facilitates workplace conversations on conflict, race and implicit bias.

Tamara has taught courses in race relations at Loyola Marymount University and served as assistant dean of students at Occidental College. From 1985-91, she lived with her family in the Rhineland Phalz region of Germany to experience life as an immigrant. That experience helped shape her as a citizen of the world, a dream her father espoused since the day she was born in segregated Montgomery, Alabama.

A lifelong learner, she is a graduate of Scripps College, Howard University and the University of Southern California. In 2017, she returned to higher education to study race, conflict and peace at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. She is the 2017 recipient of the James H. Laue Scholarship Endowment in recognition of her contributions to human and civil rights.

Her coming of age story, Diary of a Watts Princess: A Memoir of Hopes and Dreams, is published in Kosmos Journal. And her recent podcast with Valerie Brown is linked below.

KOSMOS LIVE PODCAST SERIES Unlearning Together with Tamara Hamilton
Episode 1 | Valerie Brown on Pilgrimage