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“Even A Sheet of Paper Has Two Sides”

I like this Japanese proverb…so simple and so true. Many times I have written about looking at all sides of a conflict, and many times I have coached people to consider the other person’s perspective. However, it is evident from my experience as a conflict management coach and personally too, that it’s not all that simple!

It makes sense that there is more than our view about things. However, sense is one of the things we often lose when in conflict. That is, we lose our sense of self, what is really important, that there are other ways of looking at the matters in dispute, that the other person has feelings about this matter, too and so on. Once emotions erupt it becomes harder and harder to step back from the dynamic that embroils us. To the degree our emotions are expressed – or at least  felt – indicates how much something means to us. Some actions and words will hurt and offend more than others. This may have to do with the other person’s push, how much we want or need that which we are wanting or asking for, how hopeless, shamed and insulted we feel and so on. So, what does it take to step back and look at both sides of the sheet of paper?

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog suggests you consider a dispute that is ongoing for you – even if it has been seemingly resolved, and you are still ruminating about it – as you respond to these questions. You might be able to stand back as you respond.

  • What does your side of the paper say about what happened between you and the other person in the dispute?
  • As you convey your side. on what particular points does your negative energy increase about the matters in dispute? About the other person?
  • What do you suppose makes those points especially difficult for you?
  • What might the other person say on their side of the paper that happened between the two of you?
  • How does the other person’s side differ from your own?
  • What don’t you understand about the other person and their perspective? What do you suppose the other person is missing about your point of view?
  • If someone you trust read both sides of the sheet of paper what other perspective might that person raise?
  • What did you do about the situation so far?
  • What might your trusted friend suggest you do?
  • If the one or more questions here have helped you step back from the dispute, what are you now thinking about the other person’s perspective on their sheet of paper that is different from when you started?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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