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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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Biting Our Tongue

The first job I had after graduating university was teaching English as a second language. One of the classes I taught occurred once students had reached a high level of fluency – and  it was about the use of idioms and metaphors. I didn’t realize how strange metaphors and idioms sound to people learning different languages till then. Sometimes the phrases resonated with similar ones used in various cultures. Sometimes not. We shared stories about the meaning and gave examples and laughed a lot!! One example is unrelated to today’s blog but worthy of mention because we all laughed really hard about it. When we answer the door or a call for someone who is busy we might say, ‘Sorry, he’s tied up right now.’ To people who have learned the literal meaning of the words ‘tied up’ this answer would be quite alarming!

So, saying ‘I bit my tongue’ as a way of saying I kept myself from saying something I would  regret, or ‘ I didn’t want to eat my words’ as a way of saying I didn’t want to admit my mistake, were not the easiest concepts to grasp. Today’s blog is about how you might consider deconstructing one of your disputes when you would say or did say you bit your tongue, and another when you wished you’d eaten your words!

  • As you bring to mind an interpersonal  dispute in which you bit your tongue from saying what was on your mind to say, what was that conflict about?
  • What were you thinking to say – or on the brink of saying – when you ‘bit your tongue’?
  • What hurt most – biting your tongue or not saying what was on your mind?
  • What compelled you to hold back from what you were going to say?
  • What different outcome might there have been if you had not bit your tongue?
  • What did you lose by not saying what you were going to? What did you gain?
  • Now, as you bring to mind another interpersonal dispute  in which you wished you had ‘eaten your words’, what was that one about?
  • What words did you utter that you wished you hadn’t?  What were the consequences of not eating your words?
  • How might you describe what the ‘taste’ might have been for you (metaphorically) if you had eaten your words?
  • And what was the ‘taste’ of not doing so?
  • Under what circumstances do you think it’s a good idea to ‘eat your words’? To ‘bite your tongue’?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict management
#disputeresolution

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Is Your Perspective Written in Stone?

It seems when we are in conflict that we often tend to develop and hold onto our perspective as though it’s absolute – written in stone as it were. The more entrenched we become – due to the emotional attachment to our views and upset we are experiencing by the other person and their views – the more we reactive we are. And, at these times, we are  less inclined to listen, want to listen, and consider possibilities that might serve the outcome, the relationship and us better.

It’s challenging, at these times, to stand back – to gain distance – and lighten the hold on our rightness. This  week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to do that regarding a dispute you are experiencing that is not resolving.

  • What is the dispute about?
  • What perspective do you have that you realize you are strongly holding onto?
  • What is the other person’s perspective that they are holding onto?
  • What makes your perspective one that is hard for you to soften?
  • What makes the other person’s one that is hard for them to soften?
  • If your view of how to resolve things is not written in stone what other possibilities are there for a resolution of the issues?
  • How might that or those work for you (your answer your the previous question)?
  • How might that or those possibilities work for the other person?
  • Knowing where the other person is coming from and that nothing is really written in stone, what might you say that they would consider as a possible way (or ways) to move forward?
  • What would you want to hear from them that would inspire you to consider another way or other ways to do so?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict management
#disputeresolution

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Criticizing Others

One way that some of us cope when we are in conflict is to criticize the other person for something he or she is saying or doing. Criticism takes many forms. For instance, it may be by being condescending, pointing out and putting down things we don’t approve of, finding fault when things don’t suit or fit our perspective, ignoring the person or demonstrating a dismissive attitude, being sarcastic about or correcting things the person says, and so on. Criticizing in these and other ways often results in conflict.

At those times we choose criticism as a defense, we are likely unable to separate the person from the problem; we let emotions drive conflict; and we tend to choose blaming and criticism to make or ‘win’ the disagreement. Criticism for whatever reason derails an even-handed conversation.

Criticizers may lack self-esteem and feel more powerful by being critical. They may even be deflecting other matters, including some truth and contribution that is hard to admit. Criticizers may genuinely dispute the other person’s viewpoint but do so in a way that demonstrates intolerance, lack of flexibility, and a need to be right.

If you tend to criticize, this week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog asks you to consider the last time you did so, to be able to explore this inclination further.

  • What were you specifically being critical of the last time you criticized another person?
  • What were you aiming to achieve with your criticism?
  • What did you need from the person at that time?
  • How did you succeed in achieving what you needed?
  • What does your criticism in the situation say about what you were feeling at the time?
  • What was the impact of your criticism on the other person?
  • How did the criticism hinder the situation?
  • If you were to frame the criticism as a request instead, what would the request be?
  • When someone has criticized you, what was that like for you?
  • Looking back now on the above questions, what two new things have you learned  about the use of criticism?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#criticizing
#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict management
#disputeresolution

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Understanding Why We Blame

Let’s face it, we sometimes spend needless time in blame mode about our interpersonal disputes. Just think of all the energy we put out! I’m not always sure what compels blame. Are we trying to take attention away from our wrong-doing? Are we thinking it will make things better if we blame? Or, that we will feel better? Do we want to make things worse? Blaming can be impulsive and 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.

It’s true that people say and do awful and hurtful things that are not worthy of our forgiveness and are downright mean, obnoxious, rude and irreparable. Other things we may blow out of proportion. Since blaming doesn’t make things better, it helps to think about what is going on for us at these times and remove ourselves from the negativity. Here are some reflective questions that may shed a light on a tendency to blame. You may want to consider a situation when you found yourself stuck in blame when you answer them.

  • What was it about the other person’s words or behaviour that you were blaming him or her for?
  • What did you need from the other person that he or she wasn’t delivering on?
  • What impact did blaming have on you?
  • What impact did blaming have on the other person?
  • What do you believe about the other person 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 he or she 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?
  • What theme may there be about when you tend to blame?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#blame
#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict management
#disputeresolution

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The Conflict Iceberg

The metaphor of an iceberg has commonly been used as a metaphor about conflict. This is on the basis that there are things above the surface that show themselves and then, there is all that is going on underneath. Compared to conflict, some things are obvious to the disputants (and often others) that reflect the dynamic between them, the issues in dispute, and other aspects of the existing dissension. These are above the water ‘line’.

Below the water line is much more. There are hopes, expectations, emotions, needs, values, beliefs, and other deeply held views and feelings. Our individual and collective histories that we bring to the issues in dispute are in the mass below the surface, too. While, for all intents and purposes, this underlying mass appears to be unnoticed or remains unspoken, it has an enormous impact on the interaction. Indeed, it is an integral part of the conflict and who we are within it, within ourselves, and within the relationship.

Yes, some things may be best left unexplored or untouched. However, without increased self-discovery of what is below the surface, we miss the opportunity to better understand and reconcile our motivations and expectations. And to consider what ought to be shared and discussed, and what needs to remain dormant to reach the optimum outcome.

For these Conflict Mastery Quest(ions), consider a conflict in which you see or feel that only the tip of the iceberg is showing itself.

  • What about the conflict do you think is fully evident to you and the other person?

    What lies beneath that is evident for you but is not likely evident to the other person?

  • What concerns you that may be going on for the other person that is not evident to you?
  • What outcome do you want?
  • Why is that outcome important to you?
  • What do you want to leave below the surface?
  • How will that help you reach the outcome you want?
  • What is there to be gained for the other person if you leave that below the surface?
  • What may the other person want to leave below the surface? Why do you suppose?
  • Thinking about all this now, what needs to come to the surface to reach the optimum outcome – even though it may be challenging for you and/or the other person?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#interpersonalconflict
#conflict
#coaching
#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict management
#disputeresolution

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