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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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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?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict management
#disputeresolution

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Retaliation – What For?

“Nothing produces such odd results as trying to get even.” (Franklin P. Jones)

What does it mean to ‘get even’?  Simply defined – using the word retaliate – it is “to hurt someone or do something harmful to someone because they have done or said something to hurt you.”

I have noticed in my work as a conflict management coach that a tendency to retaliate is not an uncommon way for many when reacting to being offended. Over time, I have coached people who retaliate and coached clients on the receiving end of retaliation. It is, to me, a complex reaction that is likely rooted in, among other things, what people learn growing up about how to defend themselves. I am coming at this as a coach and conflict specialist and so, I’m basing information on my observations in that capacity and not delving into the possible psychological reasons to explain this way of managing conflict.

Why do people retaliate? Clients have shared a range of reasons about why they try to get even. The main general impetus – as in the above definition – has to do with getting back at someone for what they said or did to offend them. How we experience being offended – that spurs us on to retaliate – is subjective and the reasons endless. Whatever the offense and the degree to which it hurts, people who retaliate just want the person to ‘pay’ for doing so. What that means in terms of retaliatory deeds is equally as variable as what hurts us.

How do people retaliate? I have heard many ways about how people retaliate, too. Here are a few examples, also from the workplace context, of how people ‘get back’. It may be by not giving someone a promotion or opportunity, not letting someone talk in a meeting, ignoring and not including them in conversation, gossiping about them, telling lies about them, influencing others to push back their ideas and efforts, bullying, not giving good references, and so on. Again, there is an endless list of retaliatory actions.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog asks you to consider the questions below if you are someone who tends to get back at someone who offends you. Understanding the motivation is helpful to be able to make a shift in that approach if you realize that it is an unproductive response.

  • What is one example of a situation when you got back or tried to get back at someone?
  • What motivated you to do so?
  • Why is that important to you (your answer to the above question)?
  • How might you describe the feelings you were experiencing about the other person before you retaliated?
  • How did your efforts – to get back – succeed?
  • How did that feel for you to get back at that person?
  • What was the impact on the other person?
  • How did the other person respond to you?
  • If your efforts to get back at the person didn’t succeed what happened? What was the learning in this?
  • What doesn’t work for you about choosing retaliation as a way of managing situations such as you described in this situation? What options might be more productive?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict management
#disputeresolution

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Inaugural Conflict Coaching Summit

We hope you will attend the INAUGURAL CONFLICT COACHING SUMMIT starting September 9! There will be 6 fabulous speakers every 2 weeks presenting on conflict management coaching concepts! All proceeds will go to Mediators Beyond Borders International and Peacebuilders International! www.conflictcoachingsummit.com

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How Can We Understand Everything?

Miles Davis once said, “If you understood everything I said, you’d be me.” That quote stuck with me and I have repeated this phrase and variations of it when talking about interpersonal conflict, and how we often react to misunderstandings because we missed what the other person meant or where they were coming from. You, like I, have undoubtedly encountered many situations when that occurs. In fact, it is easy to misinterpret what others say, if we don’t have a context, a relationship built on trust, cultural similarities or understandings, openness, or the same senses of humours or appreciation for the other’s. Further, disparate values and beliefs, biases, mindsets, life experiences, and many other variables have an impact on our understanding of one another – what they say, what they do, how they interact, and so on. Essentially, we are not them and they are not us – so how can we understand everything they say or do?

It is often the case that we assume we know what people are saying and why – and react accordingly. We use our lens, our values, our expectations, our hopes, and other frames to interpret what we are hearing or seeing. If we know the other person well many of our perceptions are validated by the history we have with them, though we may not be absolutely clear on everything. That said, our assumptions are often within the realm of possibility if we have a close relationship. In these cases, when we disagree or adversely experience what they are saying or doing, we are more apt to engage the other person in a conversation – to gain a better understanding of their words or actions. When we don’t know people well or the relationship is breaking down, lack of connection and incorrect attributions preclude building trust and developing a relationship in which it feels safe to raise questions and discuss what is going on. In either case, the continuing unknown can result in growing tension and ongoing dissension, in developing more and more adverse assumptions, in questioning our judgement, in faltering trust in the other person – and even ourselves.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog suggests you consider a conflict situation – an argument that evolved because it was clear you and the other person did not understand one another – or, at least, one of you didn’t get what the other was meaning.

  • What misunderstanding happened that resulted in an argument?
  • As far as you can tell, what did you specifically misunderstand about the other person? The situation? The interaction between you?
  • For what reasons might the other person have said or done that which has caused you upset?
  • What words might you use besides upset?
  • What would you prefer the other person had said or did instead, in this circumstance?
  • What did the other person seem to misunderstand about you? The situation, The interaction between you?
  • What seemed to be causing that person upset – such as, how might they have interpreted what you said or did?
  • What other words might the other person use to describe their experience in that conflict with you – from what you can tell?
  • What do you need from the other person to be able to move on? What might the other want or need from you to move on?
  • What are you most curious about right now?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict management
#disputeresolution

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Expectations and Conflict

It seems to me – based on my work as a conflict management coach and, well, just as myself – that one of the things that leads to interpersonal conflict is when we have expectations of another. It might have to do with how we interact on a day-to-day basis, how we treat one another privately and publicly, how we communicate when in conflict, how we support each other, or whether our values and needs are compatible. Further, we might expect someone to support us in a matter, to acknowledge something we did for them, to care for us when we are not well or unhappy, to meet our needs, to recognize our good deeds, to trust us, to respect our decisions and reasons we acted in certain ways, and so on. The list is endless!

It is worth considering this variable when we find ourselves reacting to these and other sorts of circumstances. Exploring our affirmative answer to the question, “Am I reacting because of unmet expectations?”, will make it easier to understand what we needed and ultimately, easier to articulate that to the other person. Taking a look, too, at our related reactions helps us do so. Indicators may be if we are feeling disappointment, betrayal, dismissed, ignored, not trusted, that we and our needs are not taken seriously, and many other emotions that reflect that we are let down by what the other person said or did or didn’t say or do.

How we manage situations and the range of feelings we experience will differ depending on variables such as the length and nature of our relationship, our needs and values and beliefs, influences from our upbringing, how we are feeling at the time, the amount of stress in our lives, our general state of health and well-being, and so on.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog is about this topic and you are invited to consider an interpersonal dispute in which you experienced unmet expectations in the situation and emotions that reflect that as you answer the following:

  • What is the situation?
  • What did the other person say or do, or not say or do, that had an adverse impact on you? How might you describe the impact on you?
  • What, more specifically, did you expect of that person that they didn’t deliver on?
  • What makes the aforementioned expectation especially important to you?
  • What reasons are you attributing to the other person for what they said or did or didn’t say or do?
  • What excuses have you made for the other person – such that you are inclined to let the situation go without voicing your expectations, if that is what you are doing?
  • What do you know for sure about the other person’s motivation for not meeting your expectations? What don’t you know about their motivation?
  • What is your fear, worry, concern about letting the other person know, if you are reticent to tell the other person?
  • What advantages are there to raising the matter? What are the disadvantages?
  • What are your expectations of yourself in this matter?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict management
#disputeresolution

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