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Justify or Just-Iffy?

The other day a friend – I’ll call her Jane – was telling me about an ongoing dispute she was having with a co-worker. She complained about the way her colleague Ted acts, looks, talks, and just about everything else. Clearly, their interactions had deteriorated over time and their current communications are mostly through others, i.e. “Tell Ted that I need the report by 3:00” and Ted’s response, “Tell her she’ll get it when I’m finished it”.

Through the course of conveying this situation to me, Jane continually justified her actions, words, and viewpoints about how she responds to Ted and why she maintains her perspective on him. Knowing I have a little experience with people in conflict, she asked for my thoughts – “Be really honest with me”, Jane said, “I really want to know what I can do. But don’t you think he’s a jerk?” (I don’t typically coach my friends or family and in any case, I prefer not to give advice or offer my opinions. I turned to my arsenal of questions instead, some I which I share here.)

For me though, as soon as I hear myself or someone else justifying themselves and how a situation was handled, I wonder what is compelling the negative energy behind doing so. That is, to my ears it tends to sound defensive and righteous and blameful. This observation resulted in me considering that underneath justifying is a sense of trying to convince ourselves of something – not just the person to whom we are justifying our actions or words. It also occurred to me that when we do this we know – at some level of consciousness – that what we are trying to assert is not necessarily correct or the only perspective. We may realize we contributed to the discord and are attempting to defend that – making the conduct and the reasoning behind it questionable. This iffiness about justifying explains the title of today’s blog – Justify or Just-Iffy?

Considering this, I suggest that readers bring to mind a dispute in which you tried to justify your viewpoint when answering this week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions).

  • About what specifically are you and the other person disputing?
  • What did you say or do that the other person disputes?
  • What did you say to her or him to justify your actions or viewpoint? What are you saying to justify that/those to others?
  • What is motivating you to justify yourself?
  • What specifically is ‘just’ (correct, indisputable, fair, etc.) about what you did or said?
  • What may be iffy about your justification?
  • What may the other person add to your answer about what is ‘iffy’ about your justification?
  • What did you not like about yourself and how you came across in the related interaction?
  • How did that contribute to justifying your role in it?
  • If you did not feel you had to justify your perspective, what may have been different?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

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5 Responses to Justify or Just-Iffy?

  1. Pingback: Reason or Excuse? | CINERGY Coaching

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