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The expression thinking ‘outside of the box’ typically relates to being creative about ideas – stepping outside of enclosed lines that are limiting and constrain thinking. When the concept comes up in the conflict management context, it occurs when people in dispute are contemplating the options available to them regarding their opposing views. The ‘out of the box’ notion is meant to help disputants get away from holding their positions steadfastly so that they are instead in a mind and heart space to consider what other solutions may be mutually acceptable.

Undoubtedly, in the middle of a dispute, many of us are limited in our ability to think creatively and in new and different ways. Giving ourselves time to think out the options about what to do and how to proceed are important considerations for any type of problem-solving and decision-making. It is most likely that conflict mastery when it comes to ‘out of the box’ thinking requires calm, readiness, clear headedness and willingness to consider alternatives that are mutually satisfactory. Here are some Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) for this week’s blog to answer in your efforts to think out of the box about possible solutions to a conflict situation you are engaged in.

  • Considering an interpersonal dispute in which you are embroiled, how do you describe what the issue(s) in dispute are for you?
  • What is most important for you about that (those)?
  • What issue(s) seems to be important for the other person? Why do you suppose that (or those) is important to them?
  • If you want to resolve matters, what are the possible options for doing so that contemplate what is important to you and the other person?
  • What do you guess the other person might suggest as ways to reconcile matters if things felt less fractious between you two?
  • What part or parts of your ideas and their possible ideas (for optional solutions as above) would you be willing to let go of and be comfortable doing so to resolve matters?
  • What common ground is there for you and the other person in this situation that is worth considering in your efforts to come up with even more possibilities for settling matters?
    What ideas might you suggest to a good friend in the same or similar situation that you haven’t considered as yet? What other ideas may that friend suggest as other solutions that are more ‘out of the box’ and that may also be mutually satisfactory?
  • What might you suggest to a close friend in a similar situation about even more other possibilities?
  • If you removed the barriers keeping you from thinking broader and deeper, what other options would appear?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?


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