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What is Your Achilles?

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog is extracted, in part, from “Conflict Mastery: Questions to Guide You” .

The derivation of the expression “Achilles heel” dates back to an ancient legend. The story goes that Achilles’ mother, Thetis, dipped him into the river Styx to make him invulnerable. One of his heels was not covered by the water, though, and he was later killed by an arrow wound to the heel that was exposed. The expression “Achilles heel” is still used today as a metaphor for vulnerability.

Our vulnerabilities often become exposed when we are in conflict. Or, they may lead to the initial discord. For example, if another person knows our area of vulnerability and wants to hurt us, she or he may purposely say or do something to wound our Achilles heel. Sometimes, of course, there is no intent, but our Achilles heel may be struck inadvertently, too. In any case, taking time to reflect on what is happening in the interrelational dynamic, and why, helps in the effort to build conflict intelligence.

Here is a series of questions to help you consider your Achilles heel and the area of vulnerability that results in conflict for you. The questions are designed also to help you gain a better understanding about the exposure you experience at these times, and what positive things your sensitive spots may represent. (If you have more than one area you consider your Achilles heel, it is suggested that you answer the questions by considering one area at a time.)

What would you say is your Achilles heel—an area of vulnerability that is likely to result in conflict when touched?

What makes this your Achilles heel?

What, specifically, feels wounded when someone touches your Achilles heel? How does it feel?

In what ways do you expose your Achilles heel, if you are aware of doing so? How do you appear or act when it feels wounded?

If you try to hide your vulnerable point, how do you do this?

What do you not know about your Achilles heel?

What helps diminish the impact on you when you sense someone coming close to touching your Achilles heel? How else may you respond when someone touches your Achilles heel that shows you are well able to manage the provocation?

How might you strengthen your Achilles heel so that you feel less vulnerable? How will you appear differently if you strengthen your Achilles heel?

What about your Achilles heel actually represents one or more of your strengths? How will you appear differently if you accept that your vulnerability is a strength?

How may the knowledge that your Achilles heel represents one or more of your strengths (your answers to the previous questions) help you in your quest for conflict mastery?

What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?

What insights do you have?

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