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Changing a Conflict’s Ending

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” ~ C.S. Lewis

This is one of those timeless quotes that applies to so many aspects of our lives – and is especially timely, these days. As we try to manage our lives during the pandemic, while wondering what life will be like going forward, we have an opportunity to be purposeful about both in positive ways.

Granted the ‘new normal’ seems elusive just yet, and the truth for me, and most people I know, is that life feels unsettled as we try to adapt and consider what next. One other truth is that these days are a chance to ‘reset’ – to change things that weren’t quite as we wanted pre-Covoid-19. Our choices might seem limited right now. But, it is still a good time to take stock – to be curious – and begin the journey of considering and making decisions that align with what we really want and need – to be better, different, more exciting, more interesting, more joyful, more loving, more compassionate, more dignified – or whatever (else) we are wanting and needing!

The same approach goes for our interpersonal conflicts – the theme of this week’s blog. As with other aspects of our lives, when it comes to our ‘fights’ with  friends, partners, colleagues, co-workers, family members, clients and others we have choices about how we react, how we manage ourselves, how we set our minds and intentions to engage with the other person, and so on. It doesn’t usually feel that we have such choices  in the midst of a conflict. But the reality is, if we consciously reflect on changing the way we look at the other person, ourselves, the issues in dispute AND how we interact we can effect a shift in the dynamic to be less fractious and more solution-focused. In this way, we are more purposeful about the ending that we can co-create with the other person.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider an argument (disagreement, conflict, dispute) you are currently having with another person. Or, if you are not in an interpersonal conflict these days, consider one you have had that remains unresolved as you answer these questions:

  • What is the conflict about? Where does the conflict appear to be going? What ending do you fear?
  • What are you currently thinking about the other person? What emotions are you experiencing?
  • How might the other person describe what’s going on between you?
  • What might the person be thinking about you? What emotions might they be experiencing?
  • What are you most curious about?
  • How would you like matters to be resolved going forward? What do you want for the relationship?
  • How might the other person want matters resolved? What do you think their want is for your relationship?
  • What choices do you have to make a shift in what you are thinking and feeling to change the ending that you fear? How might you be able to settle things in a way that is mutually acceptable (or that satisfies you in the long run if you aren’t wanting a mutually satisfactory resolution)?
  • What might you say to the other person that they wouldn’t expect to hear from you – that would help shift their thinking and feeling about you – for the better (if that is what you want)?
  • What else might you say or do to change the ending to be one about which you feel satisfied?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflict management

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