art work by John Ceprano
CINERGY (tm) - Peacebuilding... one person at a time

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

When it comes to some interpersonal conflicts the expression let sleeping dogs lie may be used to mean “to leave things as they are; especially, to avoid restarting or rekindling an old argument; to leave disagreements in the past”. Certainly a sleeping dog is a lovely sight. But to me so are most dogs who are awake. Presumably the image of this metaphor is meant to conjure up excessive yapping and overly rambunctious canines!

Historically-speaking, the idiom – let sleeping dogs lie – goes back as far as the 14th century according to one resource found in my research. It was recorded in French and literally translated as “Do not wake the dog that sleeps”. Going further back to the Book of Proverbs (26:17) a similar phrase to reads “He that passes by, and meddles with strife belonging not to him, is like one that takes a dog by the ears”. These and other like phrases all denote the same type of message – essentially, do not instigate trouble and leave situations alone lest they cause problems.

It seems to me, not only in my personal life but when providing conflict management coaching to clients, that whether to let sleeping dogs lie arises as a common inner debate. Many of us wonder about raising issues that do not feel resolved for us. Concerns may be that doing so may stir things up, create more conflict, or not really reconcile the issues or relationship. On the other hand, by not waking the sleeping dog we may continue to ruminate and feel unresolved about important things including the relationship with the other person.

This week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider a situation in which you are wondering about whether to let sleeping dogs lie.

  • What is the situation?
  • Why specifically are you hesitant about raising this with the other person?
  • What are your biggest fears if you do? How realistic are those fears?
  • What does the sleeping dog represent, if you have not referred to that yet?
  • What opportunities are you missing regarding the conflict if you let the sleeping dog lie?
  • What opportunities is the other person missing if you let the sleeping dog lie?
  • Picture yourself six months from now. What regrets, if any, may you have if you do not raise the matters relating to the situation?
  • What positive result is possible if you imagine waking up the sleeping dog?
  • What might you also be grateful about if you wake up the sleeping dog?
  • How might you awaken the sleeping dog in a conflict-masterful way, if you decide to do so?

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

This entry was posted in Avoiding, Conflict Coaching, Fears, Metaphors. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *