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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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The Aftermath

The other day I used the word ‘aftermath’ in front of my friend’s 9-year-old daughter Maya and she thought it a strange expression. I had just asked her mother what the aftermath was of the dispute she had experienced. Maya is a great math student and asked ‘Where does math fit in?’  I explained to her what I think the word means by saying it’s like asking about what happened. She asked why that word is used and then, I realized I was curious about the derivation, too. So, I decided to look up the term and this is what Free Dictionary says. They define the word as:

  1. A consequence, especially of a disaster or misfortune: famine as an aftermath of drought.
  1. A period of time following a disastrous event: in the aftermath of war.

Admittedly, I don’t think when I refer to the aftermath that they arise from calamitous events as the definition implies. But, the consequences of some of our interpersonal disputes – the ones that remain unresolved internally and externally – are difficult whether or not they may be described as disasters. In any case, this blog invites readers to consider the aftermath of an interpersonal dispute that continues to linger in some ways and upset you as you answer the following questions:

  • What happened in that dispute?
  • What is lingering for you about it?
  • What issues are most unresolved between you and the other person?
  • What are the emotions that you continue to feel? How is the aftermath effecting you most these days?
  • What do you wish you had said or done at the time?
  • What is your relationship like with the other person now?
  • What do you know about how the other person is experiencing the aftermath?
  • What would you like to see reconciled so that the aftermath wouldn’t be so difficult?
  • What is there to learn from the aftermath?
  • How might you improve the aftermath you are experiencing?
  • 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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Your Gut Instincts and Conflict

Many of us have fine-tuned instincts that help guide us through challenges we face when we encounter situations and interactions that perplex us.  We might use the expression “my gut tells me….” at these times. Gut instinct or intuition refers, generally, to our immediate understanding of something – a feeling that there is no need to think on it to any degree. We just seem to trust ourselves that we have the answer.

The thing is, we aren’t actually 100% accurate all of the time about what we are intuiting and particularly, when we don’t have all the facts to support us. Because our instincts are often accurate, we might tend to think we are stronger in that area than we are and act accordingly. Over time though, I have come to see, by my own experiences and many of my coaching clients’, that trusting our guts can lead to foolish decisions and choices.

What I have come to realize is that when I rely and act on my gut instincts I sometimes do so to my detriment.  I miss the opportunity to strengthen my curiosity muscle – to ask more questions and get more ideas, to engage the person or persons about their views – opening up the space for them to also, share their ideas and feelings, and to be more humble about my determinations, and find other answers that may be better for others and me. These and the other things can get lost if we rely solely on our gut.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites readers to consider a situation in which you relied on your gut, and you are not so sure your gut held all the answers.

  • What is the situation in which you relied on your gut instincts?
  • What did your gut tell you was going on?
  • What did your instincts tell you to say or do that you acted on?
  • What made that feel right at the time?
  • What didn’t work about using your instincts, in this situation?
  • What was the impact on you as a consequence (your answer to the above question)?
  • What was the impact on the other person?
  • How did it impact the situation between you?
  • What might you have done differently – rather than relying on your gut instincts?
  • Given that you might be used to counting on your instincts – and they are generally strong and accurate  – what did you learn from this particular conflict that you may add to a tendency to rely on them?
  • 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 are you Focusing on Regarding a Conflict?

When we are in conflict – within ourselves or with another person – we typically find ourselves focusing on something specific about what we are feeling and what happened. And our energy around that something grows exponentially the more we do so. Our hearts and brains take us to negative places, and we can get stuck there – building on the version of the facts that upsets us most and our feelings connected to those.

Once that happens it makes it harder to find our way back or to a place in which our concentration isn’t causing our emotions and thoughts to grow out of whack – even beyond what’s true and relevant.

Since we are ‘at choice’ when it comes to that on which we focus, it’s an  interesting exercise to contemplate why we select certain negative parts about our conflicts to consume our energy. At these times, we are not likely realizing that – as the quote goes – what we choose to focus on grows.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites readers to consider specific parts of a dispute on which you are focusing your thoughts and your feelings – as you answer these questions:

  • What happened in the conflict?
  • On what part are you focusing your thoughts? What are your precise thoughts?
  • Why do you suppose you chose that part on which to focus?
  • In what ways have your thoughts grown (from where they started till now)?
  • What words describe the feelings you are experiencing?
  • In what ways have they grown (from where they started till now)?
  • What is unresolved about the part on which your energy is focused regarding the conflict?
  • What bothers you most about the other person in this situation? Why is that?
  • For what reasons might you choose to stunt the growth of the thoughts and feelings about the other person on which you’ve been focusing?
  • What might help you then, to diminish your thoughts that grew? What might diminish  the feelings that grew?
  • 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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“When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge”

The relevance of this quote by Tuli Kupferberg to interpersonal conflict may not be immediately evident. But, through my work as a conflict management coach, and in my own experience, I am aware that we tend to get into patterns about how we react to things that provoke us. These patterns are the habits that become engrained in us. We might, for instance, have certain ‘hot buttons’ – things that other people say or do to which we routinely react. Something about those actions, or attitudes, or way of behaving and so on are irritants for us. It may be especially so when these sorts of behaviours are done by certain people or, it may even be by one person in particular.

In any case, how we experience being irritated by certain behaviours seems to bring on the same sort of reactions in us, and ways of interpreting and managing the situation and the other person. We might avoid or ignore the person, react with blame or call the person out in other ways. We may refuse to engage with them about the matter any more; we may try to justify our own words and actions; we may remain angry or whatever else we are feeling for indefinite periods. What is quite common is the tendency to attribute characteristics and motives to the person for doing what provokes us. These and other reactions are what I am referring here to as habitual. And this blog suggests that we can change the pattern – and when we do so new ways of interacting emerge.

From my coaching clients, I have found that one of the ways to make that happen is through increased self awareness about the habit and alternate ways of managing them. For this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog then, I suggest you bring to mind a ‘hot button’ – something that someone does or says, or how they ‘act’ in your view, their attitude etc. to which you routinely react.

  • What is the behaviour that provokes you – resulting in you feeling and reacting in much the same way each time?
  • How might you describe the feelings you experience about the other person at these times? In what ways, more specifically, is your reaction commonly felt or experienced in these instances?
  • To what do you attribute the person’s reasons for acting in the way you described in response to the first question?
  • What of the above reasons are absolutely correct as far as you know? Which might be incorrect or for which you don’t have a sure basis? What other possible reasons may there be ?
  • In interactions  when someone else does the same sort of thing – and you don’t react – what makes that dynamic between you different?
  • What do you gain by reacting the way you do that has become a habit with certain people (or a certain person)?
  • How might you prefer to feel at those times? How might you prefer to respond at these times? What makes these ways of feeling and responding not ones that come easily to you?
  • To react differently, what do you suppose you might need to think about the other person(s) that you don’t feel now? What might you feel differently?
  • What do you suppose you need to think and feel about yourself to change the habit?
  • What might change for you in relationships with the people to whom you react – if you are able to change the habit?
  • 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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Disagreeing with Another’s Opinion

This quote is an important one when it comes to strengthening our conflict competence. And I  think some of us lose sight of its meaning when we are in the midst of conflict. In typical fashion, when we and the other person have differing opinions about a matter, we each hold an opinion about what the optimum outcome is and how to reach it. We might remain civilized in our initial  exchange about what we each  want – to the extent that neither becomes overly aggressive with their perspectives. This may be the case  until we realize that the other person won’t back down from their opposition to our viewpoints. Then, as the conversation evolves and it looks as though things might not be resolvable, emotions start to take over and the chances of regaining some equilibrium decline.

We may begin to say things we later regret. We might begin to rail against how the other person is reacting and similarly, they call us out about our reactions. We might utter the useless “Just calm down!” and they react with the equally as useless – “You calm down!” Words exchanged might become louder and more emphatic and it becomes increasingly difficult to reconcile our differences. Our experiences of the interaction begin to overbear the actual disagreement and that too gets lost in the dynamic.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog is about the experience of conflict and how we might disagree with the other person’s perspective. And though each of our viewpoints may be ones with which we cannot agree – or don’t want to agree- each of our experiences is something that, in reality, we have no real way of opposing. With this in mind, consider a dispute in which you and the other person have or had differing opinions as you respond to this week’s questions.

  • What is the situation about?
  • Which or what opinion(s) does the other person not accept?
  • If relevant, what reasons might account for the other person’s objection, besides that they have a differing opinion?
  • Which or what of this person’s opinion do you not accept?
  • If relevant, what reasons might account for rejecting their opinion besides you having a different viewpoint?
  • How would you describe your experience of this dispute, i.e. what is the impact, how are you feeling about what is happening (or did happen)?
  • What does the other person not realize or seem to understand about your experience with this dispute between you?
  • How might the other person describe their experience – from what you observed or heard from them?
  • What do you think you may not realize or understand about their experience of the dispute between you?
  • What difference do you think it may make if you both understood each other’s experience of the dispute between you?
  • 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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