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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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Axe to Grind

You have likely heard of the phrase “axe to grind” and here’s a little story about the derivation of this phrase:

“Benjamin Franklin published a lot of stories, one of which he was the central character. Franklin was approached by a stranger who stopped to admire the family grindstone.  He asked to be shown how it worked and offered Ben Franklin an axe to demonstrate. Once his axe was sharp the stranger walked off laughing.”

Though the expression has taken on quite a different meaning today, the idea of having an axe to grind usually refers to having a grudge or dispute with someone about which we seek some answers, recourse or justice.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider an “axe to grind” you may have with someone – perhaps, a grudge over some action, a dispute between you, an unresolved issue and so on. These questions might help unpack the situation:

  • What is the situation about?
  • What specifically is your axe to grind?
  • What is the ongoing impact on you?
  • What does the other person know about your perspective?
  • What does the other person not know?
  • What is the other person’s axe to grind about you?
  • What is the best-case scenario if things resolve between you and the other person?
  • What is the worst-case scenario if things don’t resolve?
  • What would be different for you if you no longer had an axe to grind?
  • How else might it change the dynamic between you?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions

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The “Flip Side” in Conflict

It is common that we get so caught up in our conflicts that we only see our side. We stick to our perspective and become increasingly entrenched in our position if the other person refutes us. Our defensiveness grows and it becomes harder to consider where the other person is coming from. That is, we don’t see “the flip side”.

The origin of this phrase goes back to the days when music was put on records (remember those?). Each record had one side that had the main recording (hit song) and then there was always another song on the back, which often was completely different than the front song. This song on the back became known as the ‘flip side’.

This phrase then caught on to refer to the fact that arguments usually have more than one side. We, of course, know that, but considering this phrase, this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog asks you to consider a dispute when answering this series of questions to consider its flip side.

  • What conflict situation comes to mind – one in which you have been or are entrenched?
  • About what do you feel most strongly regarding this situation?
  • What makes that especially important to you?
  • How are you contributing to the conflict?
  • What’s the flip side? That is, how would the other person describe what happened?
  • About what does the other person feel most strongly?
  • What might make that especially important to the other person?
  • How might the other person say you are contributing to the conflict?
  • What about the “flip side” do you not understand? What about your side may the other person not understand?
  • What difference does it make to you to consider the “flip side”?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions

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Wrong Side of the Bed

Sometimes I wake up in a cranky mood. I expect that happens to you, too, right? It may be due to a restless sleep, worry, an unresolved problem, a confrontation that hovers, and other reasons that seem to result in a negative start to the day.

The derivation of this phrase is interesting. “Wrong side of the bed” apparently comes from a time when “the left side of the bed or anything ‘left’ was considered sinister, mysterious, dangerous or evil. So, innkeepers pushed the left sides of the bed against the walls so that a guest HAD to get up on the right side”. However, today the phrase refers, among other things, to starting the day being irritable and not able to focus or engage effectively.

In my world as a conflict management coach, it is common that clients who say they “get up on the wrong side” (or a similar reference to starting their day poorly) are less resilient and their health and well-being is suffering. At these times, their mindset is negative, and they seem to have a tendency to cause conflict through defensiveness and an imbalance in their ways of interacting. Or, they report reacting to even the slightest provocation. In any case, their reserves are low, and this often has an impact on their interactions.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider the experience of waking up on “the wrong side” and the impact on an interpersonal dispute.

  • What conflict happened between you and the other person when you consider you got up on the wrong side that day (and it had an impact on the interaction)?
  • What contributed to you getting up on the wrong side of the bed?
  • What specific impact did that (your above answer) have on your conflictual interaction with the other person?
  • What impact did it have on the other person?
  • What words describe your mindset that day?
  • If you got up on the “right side of the bed”, what do you suppose you would have done differently?
  • What would the impact be of getting up on the right side on the interaction with the other person?
  • What would the impact be on the outcome of the dispute?
  • What might help you manage the experience of getting out of bed on the wrong side so as to prevent unnecessary conflict?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions

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At the End of Our Rope

There are times we become so frustrated with a conflict that we feel spent – that the dynamic and its resolution are unsurmountable. We are usually full of despair and anger at these times. This may be when we use an expression like “I’m at the end of my rope!”

This phrase has an interesting derivation, having originated from the tethering of horses to eat (but not allowing them to run free). So, horses would only eat in the area that their rope allowed. When they ate all the grass that was easy, they then stretched and ate in the area that was “at the end of their rope”.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog suggests you consider a conflict in which you are at the end of your rope when responding to these questions:

  • What is the conflict about?
  • What specifically upset you to the point that your frustration grew?
  • When you reached “the end of your rope”, what happened?
  • What other words describe that experience?
  • What survivor instinct (like the horses demonstrated) do you have – to overcome the problem and solve it?
  • If the issues were solved, what would an acceptable resolution be for you?
  • What do you think would be an acceptable resolution for the other person?
  • If you both used your survival skills to make things work, what might be mutually acceptable?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions

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Conflict Mindset

In recent years, there has been a lot written about the concept known as mindset. Most recently, I read about the term again – as it relates to conflict – in Judy Ringer’s terrific book Turn Enemies Into Allies The Art of Peace in the Workplace (Career Press, 2019). One of the references Judy makes is to an Australian study (reported in the International Journal of Conflict Management, 2016) which was designed to explore what occurs when a third-party supervisor steps in to manage a conflict. As might be expected, when the supervisor had a positive conflict management style the result was, among other things, “reduced anxiety, depression and bullying” (p.21).

In this regard, Judy reinforces the concept that “a core component of centered presence is the mindset with which you approach a conflict or difficult conversation”. She also refers to another great read by Carol Dweck – Mindset, The New Psychology of Success (Ballantine Books, 2007) in which the author presents research on notions of growth mindset and fixed mindset. Among other interesting findings, Dweck discusses how a growth mindset helps us achieve success and live happier lives.

Just a few of the characteristics Judy refers to about growth and fixed mindsets – when it comes to conflict – are that those with a fixed mindset are emotionally reactive and those with a growth mindset are emotionally responsive and open. Another trait is that people with a fixed mindset are more interested in winning an argument than learning from it, as opposed to a growth mindset being more interested in learning than being right (p.83).

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog is about this latter characteristic. If you intend to feel compelled to “win” arguments, try out these questions to consider your mindset in a situation when that was the case.

  • What was the argument about?
  • What viewpoint did you assert?
  • What made it right from your perspective?
  • What viewpoint did the other person assert?
  • What was wrong, in your view, with the other person’s perspective?
  • What did the person consider most right about their perspective?
  • What difference does it make if one of you was right and one of you was wrong?
  • What did you learn from the conflict about yourself? What did you learn about the other person?
  • Generally-speaking, what mindset do you have when it comes to conflict? That is, do you prefer to win or learn?
  • If you tend to want or need to win and you want to shift your mindset to be more about growth and learning, what might you begin to do or think differently?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions
#mindset

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