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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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What Do You Need About a Conflict?

It is often the case that we do not realize we have a need that is not being met in a conflict situation. We may have trouble identifying it or articulating it once identified. Or, we have trouble conveying the impact on us of the unmet need.

The thing is, it is common in our interpersonal disputes that one of the things that precipitates a conflict is that we need and want something from the other person that she or he is not delivering on. For instance, we might be angry at another person for constantly interrupting us and our need is for them to listen to us, to respect our view, to stop pushing their point, to be more courteous and so on. Of course, the unmet needs for each of us will vary depending on the situation and what is being raised based on our values, beliefs, hopes and expectations.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider an interpersonal dispute currently brewing in your life and see if the following questions help to process it, including the unmet need.

  • What is the conflict about?
  • What is the other person saying or doing, or not saying or doing, that is provoking you?
  • What do you need from the other person that she or he is not delivering on? Which of your values does that reflect?
  • What would the other person say you are saying or doing, or not saying or doing, that is provoking her or him?
  • What might the other person need from you that you aren’t delivering on? Which of her or his values might that reflect?
  • How might you get your need fulfilled?
  • How do you distinguish what you need and what you want from the other person in this matter?
  • How might the other person get her or his need met?
  • What might it take for both you and the other person to get your needs met in this matter?
  • If that doesn’t appeal to you as an outcome, what else does besides your starting point?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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Conflict: Taking Calculated Risks

In the usual course, I hear the expression “calculated risk” to pertain to decisions made regarding investments, applying for a job or promotion, running for office and doing other bold acts for which we weigh the pros and cons of our decisions. One definition of this phrase is: “A risky action that has been carefully considered beforehand, in which the chance or likelihood of a beneficial outcome outweighs the risk or cost of failure.”

Though I’ve not heard of the expression as it specifically applies to interpersonal conflict, we undoubtedly consider the risks when taking actions and raising issues that have the potential for leading to conflict and adversely impacting family, friends, partners, spouses, co-workers and others.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog contemplates that when it comes to our interactions with others it is a good practice to take calculated risks about whether and how to initiate or respond to provocative situations. Doing so – when we do – is typically with the objective of preventing unnecessary conflict, wanting to accept there are differences, and making the conflict productive and an opportunity to resolve a matter.

I suggest you bring to mind a potential problematic situation as you consider the following questions:

  • What is the situation you have in mind?
  • What specifically is the potential problem you foresee?
  • What are you most worried about with respect to this situation?
  • What do you want as an outcome? What might the other person want as an outcome?
  • What don’t you know about the other person that would help you have a constructive conversation with her or him?
  • What does the other person not know about you that might facilitate the conversation, resolution, etc. (whatever it is you want to have happen)?
  • What are the advantages of raising the issue? What are the possible risks?
  • What are the possible advantages for the other person if you raise the issue? What are the possible risks?
  • If you were to ‘calculate’ the best ways to proceed and respond, what are the five factors you will consider in the calculation so that things add up well?
  • What would these calculations add up to that are different from your starting point?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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When is Enough Enough?

In many interpersonal disputes we tend to keep the associated tension alive with ongoing arguing about the same issues over and over. That is, it’s clear things are not getting resolved and yet, we continue to raise them, fight about them and agonize about them.

There are many reasons for this observed in my experience as a coach and mediator and well…personally. Some reasons for sustaining the conflict have to do with our hopes and expectations of changing the other person’s mind. Other reasons may be due to feelings of hurt, disappointment, betrayal and strong emotions that are keeping us from reconciling matters in our hearts, precluding us from moving on. Some of the time we are unresolved about the apparent outcome, finding it very hard to accept. At times, being in conflict is the only way to stay connected to the other person.

These and other reasons can pervade and make our lives miserable, as well as the persons’ with whom we are in dispute. Even those who hear our ongoing struggle are impacted. It even seems that we cannot get enough of the angst, or don’t know when enough is enough!

If you are in a continuing battle with someone and the above resonates for you, here are this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) to help you process the dynamic:

  • What was the dispute about?
  • What was your desired outcome?
  • What is most important to you about that (your answer to the previous question)?
  • What do you think the other person wanted as an outcome?
  • What may be most important to her or him about that outcome (your answer to the previous question)?
  • What is your specific part in keeping the dispute active?
  • What is the other person’s part?
  • What usually has to happen for you in a dispute when you can finally say “enough is enough”?
  • How will you know in this one when enough is enough?
  • What will you need for and from yourself to be able to move on?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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MAY YOU BE FREE FROM FIVE ENEMIES

5 EnemiesI recently returned from a very interesting holiday in Myanmar (formerly Burma). It was fascinating in so many ways, including the many visits to amazing Buddhist temples that pervade the countryside and cities where I travelled.

At one pagoda there were a series of statements surrounding a structure in the courtyard and one of them said ‘May You Be Free From Five Enemies’. The picture here shows the writing in English and Burmese. I smiled when I saw this, and at the woman beside me who asked, ‘what if you have 6 enemies?’ In any case, I felt like the saying came as a reminder that my next blog would be due shortly after my return – and here was a perfect topic!

So, as you contemplate whether you believe you have enemies and who they are, consider the following etymology and definition for enemies:

The etymology of the term enemy is from Latin language for ‘bad friend’ (Latin: inimicus). As for definitions, there were several, including that an “enemy or foe is an individual or group that is seen as forcefully adverse or threatening”. And, an enemy is “a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent”.

Here are this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) on this topic:

  • If you believe you have enemies, who are they (by name)?
  • For what reasons do you consider each of these people enemies?
  • Do they know you consider them enemies?
  • If you answered ‘yes’ to the above question, how do they know?
  • If you answered ‘no’ to the same question, what do they NOT know about why you view them as enemies?
  • What do you like about being enemies with these people? What don’t you like about it?
  • Which one(s) of these people would you rather not be enemies with, if any?
  • Why do you feel that way about the people you referred to in your response to the above question?
  • How might you interact differently with the people you don’t want to be enemies with to improve the relationship? What specifically might you say or do?
  • What other shifts in your thinking or feelings may you make to rebuild the relationships with those with whom you’d rather not be enemies?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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Walking Away From Conflict

While avoiding conflict is often perceived as an inappropriate way to manage our interpersonal conflicts, there are times walking away is the optimum approach. The idea of walking away presented here refers to not engaging in a dispute with another because we are not strongly vested in the subject or outcome. Or maybe, the issues are overly contentious and we just don’t want to challenge the relationship – which may be tenuous in any case. Such reasons and others often inform whether we walk towards or away from conflict.

It is suggested that the factor to consider in distinguishing avoiding and walking away has to do with whether we are actually avoiding the conflict – because we don’t feel confident and comfortable standing our ground. This is as opposed to walking away because it’s not important enough to us to assert ourselves, undermine the other person, or cause unnecessary conflict.

The Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog this week asks you to consider a dispute and whether it is avoiding or walking away you are doing – according to the description here.

  • What is the dispute about that you are (thinking of) walking away from?
  • On a scale of 1-10, 10 being very important to you and 1 being unimportant to you, what rating would you give the level of importance of the issues to you? How would you rate the importance of the relationship?
  • On a scale of 1-10, 10 being very important and 1 being unimportant, what rating might the other person give the level of importance of the issues? How may she or he rate the importance of the relationship?
  • If you walk away, what would you walk away from?
  • What would you walk to?
  • If you think you are avoiding the conflict, what are you avoiding?
  • What are the pros and cons of walking away for you?
  • What are the pros and cons of walking away for the other person?
  • What is the difference for you between walking away and avoiding?
  • Whether you are walking away or avoiding, what do you suppose you are missing out on learning?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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