Cabbage Worms and Conflict; How to Improve Relationships

Broccoli leaf with cabbage worms
Unauthorized eating of my broccoli!

Discovering Cabbage Worms

Have you ever had a problem that you didn’t even know you had?  And then the moment you see it, you wonder how you ever missed it?

That was me this summer with my broccoli plant and cabbage worms.  The worst part is that looking it at, I should have known much sooner that I had a problem.   There were lots of holes in the leaves that I saw, but I dismissed them as just a little caterpillar snack.  My plant was struggling to grow actual broccoli heads, but I blew that off as our crazy weather in the spring.

Broccoli leaf with holes

Something has been taking nibbles!

It wasn’t until I took time to properly look at my Broccoli that I saw what was really happening…cabbage worms!

Cabbage worms are pretty much the exact same colour as broccoli plant leaves, just passing by they are tough to see.   But, when you stop and look carefully, they start to appear.  If you change your perspective even a little, and look at a leaf from the bottom, or a different angle, suddenly you start to see a lot of them.  When you become aware of them, you become aware that you have a problem.

Face in broccoli leaves

I started looking at it from a lot of different perspectives for the first time

How Do Cabbage Worms Relate To Conflict Though?

It’s a lot like life if you think about it.  Sometimes we are completely unaware that something  is amiss, that we’ve rubbed someone the wrong way or hurt their feelings, until it blows up and becomes painfully obvious.  Or we’re lucky and we catch a glimpse of a different perspective and we realize that we may have caused a problem unintentionally.

I didn’t mean to be really short with you, I was just really distracted by work. I should have called you when I had time to focus on our conversation

When I’m mediating, I sometimes come across people that are dug in with the belief that they have done absolutely nothing wrong, and the problem is 100% the other person.  When I can get them to look at the situation even slightly differently, they start to see the more obvious cabbage worms.  They can start to see how they have contributed to the problem.  Beautifully, once people start looking, they start being open to looking at lots of different angles.  They start seeing the cabbage worms under the leaves, and the tiny ones hiding at the base of the stems. 

Multiple cabbage worms

Well NOW it’s obvious!

People can begin to understand that even if they didn’t mean to, they’ve got some ownership in the dispute they now find themselves in.  But that’s great news, because it also means they can start seeing ways to make things better.  Even if it’s just a little better, it’s still a step towards better.  Taking those steps, no matter how small can have a big impact on our relationships, our productivity at work, our sleep and peace of mind, and our ability to move forward. 

You can’t see cabbage worms if you just glance at your plants, you need to properly tend to them.  The same goes for important relationships, you need to take the time to be aware.  It’s not always easy, and it’s not often fun but if you can work through the tough stuff you’ll be better equipped to deal with the next batch of tough stuff.  Because tough stuff happens, it’s just part of life.  We all see and experience things differently.  When that leads to disagreements or conflict, taking the time to look for ‘cabbage worms’ can get your working on solutions instead of falling further into bad feelings and uncomfortable situations.

I Get It…Difficult Conversations Are Hard

I understand that having difficult conversations, and dealing with conflict can be really intimidating, and it can feel embarrassing if you’ve let things go to far. Those cabbage worms can be hard to talk about and find.  I can help, it’s what I’m passionate about, and trained to do.  And I get it, I’m a person too….sometimes I find myself having to have those same tough talks.  I understand how they can go.  That’s why I’m a compassionate guiding hand to help people through it.

Learn more about me and mediation here:

And of course, if you’re trying to grow something from the cabbage family then you’ll want to be well armed with cabbage worm info.  You can find some good reading about that here:

Don’t forget to follow us on facebook and instagram for conflict resolution tips, dog photos and the odd garden harvest post! 

mediator, mediation, conflict resolution makes me happy

Sarah Turl is the owner and Lead Mediator at Empowered Results Conflict Consulting Services.  She is also a forever student in the veggie garden.  While you won’t get any broccoli from her this year, you’ll always get her best when it comes to working though disagreements!

mediator Sarah Turl looking at phone

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