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It sometimes happens that we are not true to ourselves and that leads to internal conflict. We might avoid the situation; we might agree when we don’t feel agreeable; we might pretend we are not impacted; we might accommodate the other person’s needs rather than our own; and so on.

We choose different ways of responding to conflict and the other person for various reasons. Often though, we pay a price for giving in and avoiding conflict, including that we end up feeling untrue to our needs, our values, our beliefs and so on. We live a lie and all that goes with being dishonest. This might take the form of depression, regret, anger, sadness, antagonism and other negative results.

If you have a tendency to give in or otherwise be untrue to what you need or want when in conflict, this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog provides an opportunity to examine the fallout of doing so.

  • What is one conflict situation in which you were not true to yourself?
  • What did you do that reflected this (your answer to the previous question)?
  • Why did you choose to be untrue to yourself in that way?
  • What did you deny for yourself – such as your needs, beliefs, values, etc.?
  • What is the impact on you of having done so?
  • What is the outcome for the other person of your choice?
  • What is good about that outcome for the other person? What is not good for her or him?
  • What is good about the outcome for you? What is not good for you?
  • If you were true to yourself, what specifically would you have said or done?
  • What different outcome might there have been for you if you had been true to yourself?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

(Popular- from the archives)

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When we are in conflict with another it is often the case that we make assumptions about them. For instance, we may attribute reasons for their actions or words that are provoking us; we may make interpretations about their body language; or we may make assumptions about their impression of us and how they read our words and actions.

Making assumptions, such as these and others, usually indicates, among other things, historical experiences that are fuelling our current interpretations. Or, we may be applying our own rationale for similar actions or words that we have done or said. Perhaps, others suggest things to us that we adopt to explain matters. In any case, it appears that something gets in our way from checking out what we are perceiving and assuming – and so does the other person.

Whatever the reason, the mere act of assuming usually gets us into trouble. For instance, we tend to respond to the other person based on what we think we know, not what we know to be true. That is, our assumptions are not necessarily a legitimate and well-founded reflection of the other person or their intent.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider a situation in which you are making assumptions about another person who is irritating you and a conflict might be looming between you.

  • What started your experience of being in conflict with the other person? In what ways are things between you escalating since the time you first felt the tension between you?
  • Why did it escalate, do you think?
  • What specifically is the other person saying or doing that is provoking you? What about that is especially upsetting or concerning for you?
  • What possible reasons might they have for saying or doing that, do you suppose? What other possible reasons might a friend of yours who observed the two of you give?
  • If you have ever said or done what the other person said or did that is provoking you, what were your reasons? In what ways, if any, might this apply in your dynamic?
  • What keeps you from checking out your assumptions?
  • If you are inaccurate in your interpretations of the other person’s reasons and motive, what then?
  • What are you saying or doing that might be provoking the other person?
  • What reasons might she or he attribute to you regarding your actions or the words you are saying (or how you are saying them)? What reasons would you give her or him instead?
  • What do you suppose might be precluding the other person from engaging you in a discussion to better understand you and your reasons?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

(Popular- from the archives)

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In our efforts to maintain good relationships with friends and family there are times we might begin to wonder whether it is a healthy and sustainable relationship. And this week’s Conflict mastery Quest(ions) blog focuses on when we determine a relationship isn’t working out. (Another blog will consider when someone else ends the relationship.)

What we each deem a healthy relationship will, of course, vary among us. It may be one that nourishes and energizes us and that makes us feel supported. It may be one in which we feel mutual respect, caring and love. It may be one in which we trust the other person will be “there” for us- that we can count on their help if need be (in whatever form is important to us). It may be one in which we trust ourselves – to be who we authentically are without screens or pretense. It may be one in which we are confident that we can share our secrets without being judged.

These and other factors that fuel what we consider our solid relationships are ones that are hardest to let go of. We work hard to maintain them even in the face of the clues that question how solid they really are, and then, we begin to wonder whether the relationship is good for us. Maybe, we experience or sense values in these same people that we don’t respect, that are offensive and contrary to how we live; maybe, they are mean and treat us poorly – in ways that continually hurt us; maybe, we start to lose trust in them.

When variables such as these or others continue to plague us we may wonder whether the relationship is one we want to maintain. We might internally fight the notion that ending the relationship is better for us than trying to keep it going. Confusion might immobilize us. We aren’t sure what is best and part of us might realize things will work out better for us if things don’t work out between the other person and us.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider a relationship that didn’t work out for you and you ended it.

  • What are the factors that made that relationship feel solid to you? What made that person particularly special over time?
  • What sorts of things did the other person say or do when you began to question the strength of the relationship?
  • What made those things especially difficult for you to experience?
  • What impact did those things have on you?
  • What happened for you when you ended the relationship? (What was the experience like for you? How did the other person react to you? etc.)
  • In your heart and mind if you knew it was better for you to end the relationship what continues to bother you?
  • What are you missing most about the other person now?
  • It takes courage to end relationships that were once solid, in what ways did your courage show up? How about now – how are you demonstrating courageousness?
  • Though things didn’t work out with the other person what has worked out for you having ended the relationship, in any case?
  • What have you learned about yourself that is important to you and your personal well-being when it comes to your relationships?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have now that you didn’t have before you answered these questions?
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Since the New Year I seem to have an increase in the number of conflict management coaching clients who started the year with hopes of moving on from hurts they experienced in their interpersonal conflicts. These disputes may be with partners, other family members, friends or colleagues. Their stated expectations are generally that they hoped they would be more resilient and able to let go by expressing this desire and starting the New Year with a forgiving mindset. However, those seeking coaching find themselves agonizing over things said or not said by them and to them, and setting their intentions is not sufficient.

Trying to be deliberate about shifting our mindsets is certainly a way to begin the process of moving on (whether or not the goal is related to conflict). However, it is often a challenge to leave things that upset up behind and requires this and other efforts, too, to get out of our own ways and be able to move on.

Reflective questions sometimes facilitate this journey and this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog suggests some that might help if you find yourself holding on to unresolved hurts from a conflict.

  • What was the conflict about?
  • What part of it is staying with you that feels unresolved?
  • What are you thinking about when that part comes to your head now? What are you feeling about it?
  • How does holding on help the relationship? How does holding on not help the relationship?
  • If you were to move past this situation, what would that be like for you?
  • How would getting past it impact the other person?
  • What will you leave behind?
  • What keeps you from moving past the situation?
  • What could you do to help yourself?
  • What could the other person do if you made a request or her or him?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

(Popular- from the archives)

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The former U.S. Justice – Ruth Bader Ginsburg – or RBG as she was affectionately called – shared much wisdom over her years – both legally and personally. This particular quote applies to many aspects of our lives and this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog considers its relevance to interpersonal conflicts.

What often happens in our disputes with some long term friends and family members is that we tend to superficially resolve disputes – to “keep the peace”. We reach some sort of reconciliation but, we don’t necessarily feel things are really resolved. Maybe, even though we want to stop the acrimony and negativity between us, we don’t know what it will take. Maybe, we are tired of fighting about the same old issues but, become used to the state of mind and heart we are left with even if we don’t like it. Maybe, we feel hopeless and don’t think anything will change the habitual ways of relating and patterns set up over time and so on.

These and other reasons can keep us from truly feeling we’ve spoken our truth – and heard the other person’s.

Considering RBG’s quote here it typically takes one step at a time to change our patterns and create enduring, more healthy ways of being in conflict.  And it is suggested here that, as you answer the questions for this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog, you consider  an ongoing dispute pattern/issues to see if any questions help shift your thinking about the ongoing dynamic you really don’t like to create, be in, perpetuate.

  • How might you describe one ongoing issue or way of relating that you don’t like about the conflict dynamic between you and another person?
  • What do you most dislike about how you interact with them?
  • What do you most dislike about how they interact with you?
  • What is the truth you haven’t told the other person?
  • What is the fear behind not speaking that truth?
  • What is real about that fear that you know for sure? What don’t you know for sure about the validity of what you fear?
  • What might the other person’s truth be that remains unspoken?
  • What might that person fear about sharing their truth?
  • What do you want to make happen so that you feel better about the relationship and way of interacting?
  • If there is one step you’d be willing to make to begin to change the dynamic to be more what you’d like what might that be?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have now that you didn’t have before you answered these questions?
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