What would you do if … ? Stories of conflict resolution.

What would you do in the following situations?

  • You’re a psychiatrist working in a mental hospital. A homicidal patient has hidden in the elevator. Without seeing him, you enter and close the door, which locks. The patient announces that he’s been waiting for you while everyone is at the other end of the ward, and now he’s going to kill you.
  • An illiterate punk robs your uncle, a beloved doctor who has a heart attack and dies, and the DA wants to charge him with a capital crime. The punk plans to plead guilty. The defense attorney asks your family for justice, not vengeance.
  • You’re a kindergarten teacher who learns that a student is ashamed of her father, who speaks with an accent, after you’ve invited the children to bring a parent to school to teach something they do.
  • A woman comes to you alone for couples counseling. She and her husband live together “for the sake of the children” but are estranged, embittered, and distant in every other way.
  • You’re asleep in your bed when a strange man kicks open the door to your bedroom. You’re a woman, home alone, unarmed, and the phone is downstairs.

These are just a few of the 61 real-life stories in the new book Sweet Fruit from the Bitter Tree by Mark Andreas. I highly recommend reading this book if you like being resourceful in situations of conflict and desire more peace in your life and in the world.

By the way, the psychiatrist asked the homicidal maniac exactly where he planned to kill him—in this spot or in that spot. While the would-be killer thought it over, the psychiatrist pulled out his key and unlocked the elevator. Calmly stepping out into the hallway, he points to a chair that the killer could sit in afterward. Then he points out another chair, and another at the end of the hallway.

Eventually they arrive at the station where the attendants are gathered.

The psychiatrist was Milton Erickson.

If you want to find out what happened in the other situations, order the book!

Book reading: Sweet Fruit from the Bitter Tree, stories of compassionate communication, July 7

Mark Andreas, son of the eminent Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) innovators Steve and Connirae Andreas, has published a book of stories called Sweet Fruit from the Bitter Tree. He’ll be in Austin on Saturday, July 7, reading from his book. You’re invited to attend. Details are below.

Click the link above to read a couple of stories on Amazon.com.

NLP and story-telling go hand in hand. We study two different language models (meta and Milton) in practitioner training, and of course, NLP arose in the mid-1970s from modeling the influential, effective linguistic patterns of Milton Erickson, Fritz Perls, and Virginia Satir (hypnotherapy, gestalt, and family therapy, respectively), none of whom were slouches at using a good story to great effect.

Sweet Fruit includes 61 stories by numerous authors, including Erickson, Steve Andreas, Robert Dilts, Tom Best (my dear late NLP teacher), Marshall Rosenberg (Non-Violent Communication), Muhammed Yunus (banker, Nobel Peace Prize winner), and many more.

These are real-life stories, not fiction. They are stories about people experiencing conflict both with others and within themselves, about how to stay connected through difficulty, about drawing on creative inner resources to resolve conflicts.

The book has received all 5-star reviews on Amazon.com. One reviewer says:

This book is a moving page-turner that brought me to laughter and to tears, but the best thing about it is the way the stories settle into your consciousness and keep surfacing over the days and weeks after you’ve read them. I’ve found myself applying principles I read about in the stories to situations in my own life without even noticing until I’m reflecting back later. “Sweet Fruit from the Bitter Tree” isn’t overtly trying to teach anyone how to live peacefully, but it goes ahead and does just that through its artful sharing of such varied human experiences of connection and conciliation.

Another reviewer wrote:

As a bodyworker, a big part of my job involves communication, so I started telling all my fellow bodyworkers about this book. Then one of them mentioned to me that no matter who we are or what we do for a living, our lives depend on compassionate communication. Good point. These inspirational stories help me think of different ways to view potentially harmful situations, and re-define what can lead to peaceful conflict resolution. These stories will make you laugh, make you cry, and above all get you thinking about your fellow human beings in a different way.

A friend of mine who got the book on Kindle says it reminds her of Rachel Naomi Remen’s Kitchen Table Wisdom. Every story expands your capability of being a more resourceful, generative human being.

There’s not much I love as much as listening to someone read a really good story aloud or tell a great story from their own experience. My parents read stories to my siblings and me when I was a child, and I’ve loved it ever since. I’ve been blessed to hear some really great storytellers tell some really great stories.

I’m going to an afternoon of readings from the book on July 7 sponsored by NLP Resources Austin. There will also be some exercises and discussion, followed by a book signing.

If you’re interested in attending, click here for details. You can bring your own book, buy one at the event, or just listen.

Hope to see you there.