A few years ago, I spotted the name Quarrelsome Lane on a 19th Century map of Queens, New York, in the Queens Museum of New York. The road was located approximately ¾ of a mile from my childhood house in a neighborhood lined with trim, brick homes, and front gardens. I found it fascinating that the bland, modern-day moniker 75th Avenue didn’t hint at events that prompted this name.
I was curious, and my research revealed that the path’s early name was Hell Fire Lane. But try as I might, I couldn’t locate a reason for the road’s contentious branding. Only one fact emerged the lane had traversed local farms being a popular market route from Eastern Flushing and Hempstead to the Village of Flushing.
Something interesting must have been happening on that path. Did angry feuding farmers reside at that location when it was called Quarrelsome Lane? Did a local preacher decide to use that spot to preach eternal damnation during its Hell Fire Path period? Did the farmers resent the travelers who had carved a road through their land and pick fights? Perhaps. (Some in Queens would undoubtedly say, “Whatever. Why you buggin’ you sistah? It was a long time ago.”)
But whatever the reason for the names, I thought that they served as a great reminder about what can happen when we get stuck in a bad communication dynamic. Sometimes we don’t remember why we ended up at this communication impasse and why our behavior choices have us revisiting the same well-trodden route and results.
Rethinking and identifying alternative options can help us make the desired change. Consider:
- Agreeing to use some creative sharing techniques like the Chair Technique
Or narrative storytelling techniques that have clearly defined methods of listening and sharing feedback
- Requesting that a neutral party mediate – or even
- Stepping away and agreeing to be quiet for a bit of time – chill until the emotions can settle
Into a state of listening readiness
Time and a fresh perspective will allow us to identify alternative possibilities that can shift the dialogue and our emotional dynamic. With some patience and practice, one can move towards healthier and more productive communications. This would be like making a verbal left turn from Quarrelsome Lane onto Utopia Parkway. FYI, this is a real road at the corner of 75th Avenue and it continues to be an active thoroughfare. I kid you not – only in Queens.
Julienne B. Ryan is a certified AccuMatch BI coach and the author of “The Learned-It-In-Queens Communications Playbook — Winning Against Digital Distraction” and an applied, narrative storyteller, speaker, trainer, and coach. She believes in the power of listening and is on a mission to improve how we communicate with each other, one authentic conversation at a time. Click on this link to learn about her services.