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Getting Unstuck When In Conflict

It often happens that the more positional we are about an issue in dispute, the more stuck we are about discussing the matter – much less reconciling matters. Our ability to negotiate, discuss and make amends deteriorates at these times and the other person may dig in his or her shoes in response to us. Or, he or she may have been the one to take a stand in the first place and our reaction contributes to the discord.

We get stuck for many reasons, depending on things like what the situation is, who the other person is, the nature of the perceived offense, the strength of our emotional response, the inherent threat to something important to us and so on. A challenging dilemma arises when we’re stuck in a conflict and the ‘stuckness’ works both ways. It is interesting however, that whether it is one or both parties that are stuck, such a state of being blocked or stuck often signifies a crucial turning point in the dispute.

In an attempt to ensure such turning points open the door rather than close them, the following set of questions may be helpful in turning the knob. Please consider a current situation in which you and the other person are stuck in your conflict situation or conversation – getting nowhere fast, holding on to your positions and getting stronger in your respective senses of rightness.

  • What is happening for you when you are stuck in a conflict?
  • What is one image that describes this experience of being stuck?
  • What are the upsides for you if the conflict gets resolved?
  • What are the downsides for you if the conflict does not get resolved?
  • What is going on for you right now that may be keeping you from getting unstuck?
  • What could the other person say or do that would help you come unstuck – even a little?
  • What is your sense of what the other person may be stuck about regarding this situation?
  • What if anything, are you willing to say or do that may help him or her start to get unstuck?
  • What is one word to describe what it will feel like to get unstuck?
  • What sorts of different possibilities may open up if you become unstuck?

Any other comments about this topic and/or what other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) occur to you?

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