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Conflict: Taking Calculated Risks

In the usual course, I hear the expression “calculated risk” to pertain to decisions made regarding investments, applying for a job or promotion, running for office and doing other bold acts for which we weigh the pros and cons of our decisions. One definition of this phrase is: “A risky action that has been carefully considered beforehand, in which the chance or likelihood of a beneficial outcome outweighs the risk or cost of failure.”

Though I’ve not heard of the expression as it specifically applies to interpersonal conflict, we undoubtedly consider the risks when taking actions and raising issues that have the potential for leading to conflict and adversely impacting family, friends, partners, spouses, co-workers and others.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog contemplates that when it comes to our interactions with others it is a good practice to take calculated risks about whether and how to initiate or respond to provocative situations. Doing so – when we do – is typically with the objective of preventing unnecessary conflict, wanting to accept there are differences, and making the conflict productive and an opportunity to resolve a matter.

I suggest you bring to mind a potential problematic situation as you consider the following questions:

  • What is the situation you have in mind?
  • What specifically is the potential problem you foresee?
  • What are you most worried about with respect to this situation?
  • What do you want as an outcome? What might the other person want as an outcome?
  • What don’t you know about the other person that would help you have a constructive conversation with her or him?
  • What does the other person not know about you that might facilitate the conversation, resolution, etc. (whatever it is you want to have happen)?
  • What are the advantages of raising the issue? What are the possible risks?
  • What are the possible advantages for the other person if you raise the issue? What are the possible risks?
  • If you were to ‘calculate’ the best ways to proceed and respond, what are the five factors you will consider in the calculation so that things add up well?
  • What would these calculations add up to that are different from your starting point?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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