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Decision-Making in Interpersonal Conflict

When we’re in conflict, there are many decisions to be made during and after it is over. Even when we anticipate dissension, there are decisions to make about how to effectively engage in the interaction. Our ability to make any sort of decision about conflictual  matters and the relationship dynamic decrease the more upset we become. For various reasons in the heat of the moment we often seem to think it is necessary to do or say something, rather than taking a ‘time-out’ to decide the optimum way forward. This can lead to reactions that we recall later as being ill-conceived, embarrassing and poorly timed.

What we blurt out without thinking during a conflict may be a need to defend, retaliate or assert our perspective, or to make the other person wrong. We generally don’t think we have choices at these times. However, the quest here is to consider how to make decisions about how to or whether to engage the other person, so we won’t agonize about them afterwards. As you answer the questions below, please think of a time when you reacted to a conflictual interaction in a way that was not productive and the conflict ended in a less than satisfactory way:

  • What did you say or do that didn’t work for you or the other person?
  • How did you decide to say or do that?
  • At what point may you have decided on a different response?
  • What may you have chosen to say or do instead?
  • What do you suppose kept you from doing so that time?
  • What would have been different if you had taken that different response?
  • What did you learn from that interaction?
  • Based on this learning, what decision do you intend to make the next time you are in a similar situation?
  • What choices would there be to ensure that happens?
  • What is it like for you to look at your conflictual interactions from this vantage point – about having choices to decide how to respond?

Are there any other comments about this topic and/or what other Conflict Mastery™ Quest(ions) you would add?

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