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“Like a dance, conflict escalation generally requires the participation of both parties.” Brian Mistler

Like other quotes that speak to the notion that conflict sustains itself by our participation in them, I especially like this one because it refers to conflict escalation as a dance. However, the word dance seems so contrary to what we think of regarding the dynamics of conflict! But as I thought about the use of the word, the idea of dance began to have more meaning including ways of looking at the relationship as it goes through the motions of interpersonal disputes.

So, as I thought further I came up with other analogies to conflict interactions and communications within this metaphor. For instance, dancers can be out of sync in their steps, not well matched, apparently together but actually far apart, going through the ‘motions’ but wanting to stop the pretence, stumbling through, one going faster than the other, physically distant, different in their skills and abilities, disparate experiences and other variations of how people connect or – when it comes to conflict – disconnect.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider the ‘dance’ going in regarding a dispute you are in with someone as you answer these questions.

  • What is the situation?
  • In what ways does the notion of being in a dance with the other person resonate when it comes to this conflict (as per the above description)?
  • In what ways does the notion of being in a dance with the other person not resonate?
  • How are you ‘in step’ with the other person?
  • With what are you most out of step regarding what you two want?
  • How are you stepping on the other person’s toes?
  • How is that person stepping on your toes?
  • What is most important to you? What is most important to the other person do you think?
  • What would it take for you two to be in sync?
  • How might you contribute to making that happen?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?


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