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Planning for Plan B in Conflict

It helps in our efforts to become conflict masterful to be prepared when we anticipate conflict could erupt. This might occur for reasons such as when we know we have offended someone and that she or he has asked to talk to us. We might ourselves want to raise an issue we know will be difficult for the other person, possibly leading to a conflict. This could be due to an event, action or words in which she or he expressed something or acted in a way that upset us. Or, it could be that the other person is unaware we are about to introduce a matter which she or he does not expect.

How to respond to or initiate difficult conversations can arouse unsettling feelings – such that we might put them off indefinitely, soften our words to the extent they lose their meaning and intent, accommodate the other person by taking on the responsibility that is not ours to own, and so on.

I will refer to Plan A as the initial methodical way of preparing what we want to say and how, as well as how we want to respond to the other person’s possible words and reactions to us. It’s a good exercise and one that helps build confidence and comfort for the anticipated challenges. It also builds insights by stepping into the other person’s shoes to effectively anticipate what she or he is likely to say.

Plan B is still a methodical way of preparing ourselves. It contemplates if things do not evolve the way we hope Plan A is intended.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider Plan A and B about a difficult conversation ahead for you – which you are initiating and/or responding to.

  • What situation comes to mind that you anticipate will be a challenging conversation? Will you be initiating it or on the receiving end of someone else doing so?
  • What are you most worried about?
  • What are the messages you plan to convey in either case (as initiator or on the receiving end)?
  • How do you want to be and be perceived?
  • What else does the preparation for Plan A entail?
  • What makes Plan A the optimal way for the initial interaction?
  • If Plan A goes the way you intend, what is the anticipated outcome?
  • What challenges are there with Plan A that you have yet to work out?
  • What is Plan B, if Plan A doesn’t work as you hope?
  • What are the pros of Plan B? What are the cons?
  • What more do you need right now before either Plan A or B unfolds?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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