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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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THINKING ‘OUTSIDE OF THE BOX’ WHEN IN CONFLICT

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?

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

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WHAT DO YOU LOOK LIKE WHEN IN CONFLICT?

It’s unlikely that we think about what we look like when we are in conflict or, how our body and facial language might contribute to the dynamics! On reflection – we may be able to describe what we think our demeanour was, the look on our face, our body movements, and how we acted at these times. Thinking about all this inspired some questions for this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog. I began thinking that an interesting way of examining how we engage in conflict is to consider if we are able to ‘see’ ourselves through someone else’s eyes and what impact that may have.

The line of inquiry here works well if you think about the conflictual exchange between you and another person. After getting that interaction into your consciousness, I suggest you envision that a close and caring friend, family member, colleague or other special person observed you in that interaction. Here are some questions to facilitate the process of looking at yourself figuratively and literally.

  • How did you act in that incident that you would feel embarrassed about if observed by an observer or observers whom you respect?
  • How may they describe how you looked?
  • What do you think the other person in your dispute experienced about how you looked or acted that was most off-putting for them?
  • What might your observers be most surprised at about your facial or body language considering how they know you?
  • What would the friends, etc. support and applaud about what you said or did?
  • What sorts of things did they observe as possible ways you contributed to the escalation with your facial or body language or otherwise?
  • What pieces of advice may they suggest as some other ways you could have been in that interaction to deescalate rather than escalate matters?
  • What part of the suggestion(s) do you agree with and why? What part of the suggestion(s) does not resonate and why?
  • Thinking about it now, what did you see in yourself (characteristics, attitude, body language, etc.) that is not the person you want to be when you are in conflict?
  • What words better describe how you want to be and be seen in conflict?
  • 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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WHY DO WE BLAME?

“The only thing blame does it to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration.” Wayne Dyer

It seems we sometimes spend needless time in blame mode when we are disputing with another person. I don’t really know what compels blame when I hear mediating and coaching clients – or in my own tendency to blame, at times. Are we trying to take attention away from our own wrong-doing, as in this quote? Are we, for some reason, thinking it will make us feel better if we blame the other person – and that they will take responsibility for something (possibly to which we contributed)? Do we need to be the victim by blaming others?

Blaming seems to be impulsive and even instinctive for some. It’s often an instant reaction to being blamed ourselves, to feeling hurt and angry, to not getting what we want, to trying to do our best and it falls flat, to refusing to take responsibility if something doesn’t go well, and other such inner turmoil leading to blame. At these times, we don’t always realize that we have choices about how we react. That is, unless we are getting something out of blaming, which itself is an important question to ask ourselves, we have the ability to change a tendency to blame.

Since blaming doesn’t make things better, it helps to remove ourselves from the negativity and think about what is going on for us at these times. In this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog you will see a list of reflective questions that may shed a light on a tendency to blame if that is something you are doing in a particular situation or generally, have a tendency – at some level of your consciousness – to choose blame.

  • What was it about the other person’s words or behaviour that led you to lay blame?
  • What did you need from the other person that they weren’t delivering on?
  • What impact did blaming the other have on you?
  • What impact did blaming have on the other person?
  • What do you believe about the other person and their intentions that may have contributed to your feelings of blame in this situation?
  • If you told the other person exactly what you are/were feeling about what they said or did, what words would you use?
  • What was going on for you that you chose blaming as a way to cope with this person or situation?
  • What other choices did you have that may have served you better?
  • What would it take for you to let go of the blame now if you want to? If you don’t want to, what is the reason you want to hold onto the blame?
  • What theme(s) may there be about the circumstances, subject matter, person and other possible variables – when you tend to blame?
  • 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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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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