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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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Tired of Fighting

Sometimes in my conflict management coaching practice I hear clients say – about their interpersonal conflicts – that they are tired of fighting with someone (in some cases with a number of people). It is not just in long term work relationships that I hear plaints of this nature. Being tired of conflict with personal relationships, partners and family members also generate the feeling of “I’ve had enough!”

Beleaguered by continuous negative emotions and interactions, my clients who are fed up are often looking to coaching to help change the way they interact, or to decide whether continuing with the relationship serves them anymore, or to figure out if they can better understand the continuing feuds. These and other objectives (when clients say they are tired of fighting) motivate them, in most cases, to also consider what specifically compels the continuing dynamic about which they fatigue.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider a person with whom you would say you are tired of fighting.

  • Who is the person with whom you are tired of fighting?
  • What do you fight about that is especially tiring for you? What are you most tired of in that regard?
  • Why is that especially tiring (your answer to the previous question)?
  • How do you want to feel instead of “tired of fighting”?
  • What options have you considered rather than fighting?
  • If you were to resolve your differences so that you wouldn’t be tired of fighting with this person anymore, what would that look like?
  • How realistic is the above answer on a scale of 1-10, 1 being not at all and 10 being very?
  • If a realistic outcome, how might you make it happen?
  • If it is not realistic to resolve your differences, what other options are there? What are the pros and cons of the options you named (above) for you? What are the pros and cons for the other person?
  • In the end, what is a proactive way to not become “tired of fighting”?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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“Making Faces” in Conflict

When in conflict it is often the case that our face (and the other person’s face, too) tells a story of what we are experiencing, how we feel about ourselves, how we feel about the other person and so on.

Facial messages typically show up and signal our emotional reaction before we express it verbally – if at all! It’s hard to disguise these feelings and in fact, we often don’t need to say anything because our face says it all.

When we make faces or notice others’ facial expressions regarding a conflict, the opportunity presents itself to reflect and share what we are reacting to. Or, though some faces are daunting, it’s time to ask the person what is happening for her or him.

In either case – sharing or asking – the early signals of dissension demonstrated on our faces are prime for addressing and preventing unnecessary conflict.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog asks you to consider a conflict when someone else made a face at you and one in which you know you did to another.

  • When another person made a face to you, how do you describe her or his face?
  • What was happening that seemed to lead to her or his reaction?
  • How did you interpret what you observed in her or his facial language? What else may she or he have been feeling?
  • What would have been a conflict masterful comment or question when you observed the other person’s face?
  • What happened in this conflict after the person made a face?
  • When you made a face in a conflict, what was the situation?
  • What led to you making the face you did?
  • How might you describe your face?
  • What might the other person say additionally or differently about your facial expression? What might a good friend observing your face say additionally or differently?
  • What message did you want the other person to get from your face? What conflict masterful comments may you have made instead of making a face?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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Carrying the Weight of Conflict

It often seems that we carry a heaviness in ourselves – our hearts, our heads, our whole beings – when we are in conflict with another person. The intensity varies depending on the person, the situation, what was said, how it was said, and any number of other variables that influence the nature and amount of weight we continue to carry. This may be the case whether or not the conflict issues were resolved.

Even though we have trouble shedding the hold the conflict has had on us, we might try to resume the relationship anyway. Other times we ignore the other person, or act as if everything is okay though it isn’t. In any case, there is frequently an underlying hope that things will just get better and the angst will pass. It doesn’t always though.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider a conflict about which you are carrying a weight.

  • What is the situation?
  • How would you describe the heaviness you are carrying?
  • Where are you carrying it?
  • How much would you say the heaviness weighs (in pounds, grams)?
  • What does the weight feel like?
  • If you were to throw out something that is especially heavy and useless to carry, what would be the first thing you would toss?
  • What makes that useless (your answer to the previous question)?
  • If you threw that heavy weight out, what weight would you be left with (in pounds, grams)?
  • What are your unspoken hopes about the conflict?
  • How might you make that happen (your answer to the previous question)?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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Being Okay With Our Reaction to Conflict

When we are in a conflict with another person, we experience a range of emotions and in varying degrees of intensity. Our reactions reflect a number of things, including how important the issue is, what we are feeling about what is said or done, how what is said or done is an affront to our needs and interests, who we are offended by, and even when and how the conflict is raised.

The rise in our emotions when someone says or does something that adversely affects us is an internal and external indicator that our tolerance is being threatened and that those words or actions are unacceptable for us.

These are meaningful signs. It is normal and okay to react when we feel offended. Denying our experience or avoiding the situation does not serve us or the relationship well. Rather, identifying and discussing what is going on for us, including the impact, is more likely to provide us with the opportunity to resolve matters. That is, by raising issues that are bothering us, including the assumptions we might be making, we are taking responsibility for ourselves and not letting things become suppressed.  The reality is if we don’t face these sorts of dynamics, they inevitably show up again as unresolved issues and feelings. The intensity often grows when this occurs and our equilibrium remains upset.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider a situation about which you are internally reacting – to see if the following questions help process your reaction.

  • What is the situation?
  • What specifically are you reacting to?
  • What makes that (your answer to the previous question) upsetting for you?
  • How do you describe your reaction?
  • What else may someone add to your description (if anything) if they observed you at these times?
  • What is okay about your reaction? Why?
  • What does it (your reaction) tell you about what is very important to you?
  • What is not okay about your reaction? Why not?
  • How is your reaction consistent with your internal and external responses when you are provoked by others? How is it different? What is the difference about?
  • What lessons are there to learn from your reactions? How will you take those lessons forward to the next time you are in conflict with the same or another person?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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Who Do You Become?

Interpersonal conflict tends to bring out parts of us we don’t really like. It may be our attitude, our mannerisms, what we say and how we say it, our facial gestures and so on. Sometimes we seem to replicate the way we saw a parent interact; other times we see the ‘child’ in us or the petulant teenager.

Since we generally learn how to manage conflict through our families of origin (we learn what not to do this way too), it is common that we default to patterns embedded way back when. Through trial and error, schools, peers, etc. we also learn other ways to “be” in conflict and not always effectively. There’s just no rule book!

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog explores who you become in conflict. It will help to consider a situation you can think of in which you know you transformed into a not-so-great version of you.

  • What was the situation?
  • Who did you ‘become’ in that interaction?
  • In what ways?
  • How might you describe the way of “being”  you became in detail?
  • What brought on that way of reacting? How is it a “default” reaction for you (if it is)?
  • What did you like about who you became? What didn’t you like?
  • How did the other person respond?
  • How do you wish you had interacted instead?
  • What precluded you from interacting that way (your answer to the previous question)?
  • How might you prevent reacting in ways you don’t like about yourself in the future?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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