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If at First You Don’t Succeed (in that attempt to mend things)

Recently, a coaching client (I’ll call her Jane) retained me after her attempt to mend matters between herself and her co-worker (I’ll call her Martha) was unsuccessful. Jane told me that the relationship seems to have deteriorated all the more since she initiated an unsuccessful conversation with Martha and it’s now having an impact on other team members.

When we first spoke about this matter Jane’s words were, “My ‘Plan A’ was to have a conversation with Martha in hopes we could resolve our issues. I didn’t expect there would be a need for ‘Plan B.” I get that. That is, we don’t typically think we need to have several plans in place in many situations we encounter – when trying to address a matter – if one doesn’t work. It more often makes sense to us, at the time, to go with what seems the right thing to do under the circumstances. Then, if that doesn’t work we are faced with the question of ‘what now?’ That can feel daunting and we face the answers with less confidence and hopefulness.

In this situation, the other plans beyond ‘A’ that Jane is now considering contemplate the outcome she wants and what might suit Martha. That in itself has been a pivotal exercise for Jane. Her options about what actions to take, whether or not things work out, include trying another conversation with a different approach, writing Martha and asking what she (Jane) can do to mend things, going to their boss, carrying on in hopes things might get better on their own, and she even put asking for a transfer and leaving her job on the list. Jane didn’t want to do the last options but, she said she felt better considering many options as ‘plans’. Her thinking was that it helped her gain a better perspective – that she had more choices – if they are unable to come up with a mutually acceptable plan going forward.

Most importantly, Jane got clearer on what she wanted as an outcome and what might be important to Martha as an outcome before deciding on which approach might also suit them both.

For this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog, please consider a conflict situation and what plans there might be to resolve matters.

  • What is the situation?
  • What is the outcome you want from this situation?
  • What, if anything, have you considered so far as ways to reach this outcome? Or, if you have tried something already what was that?
  • What outcome might the other person want that’s different from your desired outcome?
  • Considering all the possible outcomes that might work for both of you what of these or other ones might work?
  • What are the pros and cons of each of the above outcomes for you?
  • What are the pros and cons of each of those outcomes for the other person?
  • What outcome can you live with if not the best one?  What outcome might they be able to live with?
  • Where is the common ground, if any, between you and the other person?
  • What is the optimal way of getting there?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflict management

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