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ConflictMastery Quest(ions) Blog

The CINERGY® Conflict Management Coaching Blog –ConflictMastery® Quest(ions) – is for anyone who finds self-reflective questions helpful for examining and strengthening your conflict intelligence. It is also for coaches, mediators, HR professionals, ombudsmen, leaders, lawyers, psychologists, counsellors and others who also use self-reflective questions as tools for helping your clients in these ways.

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WILL YOU OR THE CONFLICT BE SOMETHING YOU’LL LAUGHT AT SOME DAY?

It’s somewhat counterintuitive to think and say we actually laugh at our interpersonal disputes! But, in my work as a conflict management coach, I have heard some clients who end up laughing – mostly at themselves – regarding their disputes. It might be things like their reactions and ways they lost their sense of humour about the differences between them and the other person. They even laugh at how the conflict got so out of hand and away from them; some say have said something to the effect that the child in them – who couldn’t get their way – appeared in their conflict.

When clients lighten up and even laugh during conflict coaching it’s typically when they are deconstructing their conflicts and gaining increased perspectives on the dynamic and their part in it. At these times they come to realize various things about themselves as they stand back from what occurred. Some of those things might humorously embarrass them, and they find some of their antics to be laughable on reflection. In some other cases – conflicts between life partners, siblings, and friends – clients have reported (on follow up) that they have laughed with the other person about what occurred – their assumptions, their sassiness, their infantile ways of coping. Those and other sorts of reflections on incidents that went off the rails can strike us as humorous as we look back. (Of course, not all conflicts present things to laugh at in any way.)

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider a conflict and/or your part in it that you think you’d laugh at someday or, at least, would like to.

  • What is the situation? How did it resolve if it did? If the conflict didn’t resolve why not?
  • What did you say or do that contributed to the dissension?
  • When you consider that dispute what did you say or do that you might now consider laughable?
  • What, if anything, about the issues you two were disputing would you consider something to laugh at?
  • What might the other person consider as something to laugh at regarding the dispute between you?
  • If a good friend was watching or listening to you during the conflict, about what might they tease you regarding how you acted or reacted?
  • As you look back then, what different reaction might have resulted in a better outcome?
  • If the conflict you have in mind is nothing to smile at what would you like to laugh at – about yourself, your reaction, your attitude, your assumptions?
  • What might you say to the other person that you know for sure would lighten the tension between you (that wouldn’t be making fun of them or the issues in dispute)?
  • How might you have prevented the conflict between you if you approached it with a lighter mindset?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflictmanagement
#disputeresolution

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CONFLICT – LIKE A DANCE? REALLY!

“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?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflictmanagement
#disputeresolution

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KNOW YOUR WORTH

“Know your worth. You must find the courage to leave the table if respect is no longer being served.” Tene Edwards

I find this a poignant quote. There’s only so much any of us can or want to tolerate when we don’t feel respected. This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog speaks to this as it pertains to being in conflict. That is, our level of toleration varies in conflict depending on a number of variables, including whom the conflict is with and what it is about?

Generally, most of us do not want to put up with words and actions that result in us feeling vulnerable, threatened, experiencing ongoing tension, being undermined, hurt and upset, feeling ‘lesser than’ and other outcomes that can occur from being engaged in destructive conflict.

At these times – when the conflict dynamics threaten our self-worth – many of us lose track of ourselves and our strengths. Self-limiting beliefs might kick in; we may lose faith in ourselves and underestimate our strengths; we may feel powerless; and we might lose courage to stand up for ourselves or our values and our needs. Maintaining and gaining strength at these times is often difficult and we forget we have a choice to walk away – with our dignity and self-respect. This blog invites you to unpack an interpersonal dispute and consider when and how to leave the table because respect is no longer being served.

  • What is the dispute about?
  • In what ways is the other person undermining and disrespecting you?
  • About what in this dynamic are you feeling strong?
  • About what are you feeling least strong in this dispute?
  • What did you think about yourself before this conflict with respect to your relationship with the other person? Your relationship with yourself?
  • What about now – taking the above questions to the present?
  • What does ‘leaving the table’ mean to you as one of your choices regarding this dispute? What other meanings may apply?
  • If you hadn’t already included ‘leaving the table’ as one of your choices, what now makes that a possibility?
  • What scares you about the possibility of leaving the table as you define it?
  • In what ways might you muster your courage to ‘leave the table’?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflictmanagement
#disputeresolution

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BEING EGO-LESS

“When misunderstandings grow cut your ego.” Anonymous

I imagine psychiatrists and other related professionals would dispute the idea that we as humans can be ego-less under any circumstances, including when it comes to being in conflict with others. Well, they are probably right. However, I’m going to suggest we consider this a little before exploring the notion of being ego-less when it comes to our interpersonal disputes further.

What does ego mean? One of the many definitions is “your idea or opinion of yourself, especially your feeling of your own importance and ability” (Cambridge Dictionary). Often the sentiment behind saying someone has an ego is done in a derogatory way. However, I think it’s safe to say we all have an ego. After all it’s our sense of self that we bring to our way of being in the world and we have ideas we have developed over time about what that is. The idea of being ego-less, as in the title here and as it applies to engaging in conflict, implies that our ego can get in the way of being able to engage in conversations in which we try to assert our rightness for the sake of wanting and needing to be right.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog considers whether we can be in conflict and leave our ego aside while engaging in conversations which challenge our identity, values and needs, or when contemplating how to handle a fractious situation that may end up doing so.

Among other things, this means approaching the other person and the conflict situation from a place of curiosity – a place in which we don’t need to be right, in which we care more about maintaining or improving the relationship as opposed to winning, in which we are fine with not proving ourselves or getting what we want, in which being better than (more knowing, more powerful, more anything) is not on the agenda.

To answer the questions in this blog I suggest you start by bringing to mind a dispute that isn’t mending.

  • What’s the dispute about?
  • What do you want to have happen? What do they want?
  • If you want things to reconcile in this situation and make amends with the other person what is getting in the way of that happening from what you can tell? What part are you playing in that?
  • What part is the other person playing that is keeping things from reconciling?
  • What might be important to that person that isn’t being satisfied and that could be contributing to the stale-mate?
  • What part are you playing that may be keeping things from reconciling?
  • What is important to you that might be contributing to the stale-mate?
  • In what ways may the other person’s ego be a part of the challenge you’re both facing in reconciling your differences?
  • What part of your ego is not serving you well in this dispute?
  • What if you left your ego out of the conflict what difference might that make?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflictmanagement
#disputeresolution

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NO SHORTCUTS WHEN IT COMES TO CONFLICT

I like this quote by Beverly Sills – it applies to just about everything!

When it comes to interpersonal conflict though ‘any place worth going’ might be feeling listened to, understood, acknowledged, mutual reconciling of our differences, feeling settled, resolved, and relieved. When it comes to conflict there are truly no short cuts to attain these outcomes.

What might this mean as it pertains to conflict? The notion of shortcuts in conflict may refer to things like taking actions and uttering words that only serve to put a band-aid on what occurred. Or, it may be attempts to make quick fixes to hurt feelings and to issues that require more attention. These might include insincere or untimely apologies; it might be making efforts to appease and move past things when the other person resists – not ready to or wanting to – at least just yet.

In these scenarios and others that are experienced as short cuts, one or both (or more) people usually remain upset and unresolved in themselves or with the other person.

I commonly hear about these sorts of experiences from coaching clients who share situations in which the other person’s ‘short-cut type’ actions have made matters worse. Some clients share that they too take shortcuts of various sorts with the hope of getting over and past the dispute, to get what they want, to win. And when it doesn’t work – whoever takes shortcuts – the result is often increased angst, interpersonal dissension and a breakdown in the relationship.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites readers to consider a dispute in which you identify yourself as someone who took a shortcut that didn’t work out well and one in which you experienced the other person’s actions as a shortcut – and it didn’t work out well.

  • What’s the situation in which you took a shortcut that didn’t work out well?
  • What shortcut did you take? For what reason did you take that shortcut?
  • What did you achieve? What didn’t you achieve that you hoped to?
  • What was the impact on the other person? The relationship?
  • What was an alternate way of managing the dispute that might have worked out better?
  • What different outcome might there have been if you had done so (your answer to the above question)?
  • What would be good about that outcome? What wouldn’t be good about it?
  • When you’ve been in a conflict and someone else took what you would call a ‘shortcut’, what was the situation? What was the shortcut?
  • What was the impact on you? The relationship?
  • What might the other person have done differently that might have been better for you? In what way(s) might have been better?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflictmanagement
#disputeresolution

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