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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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Letting Conflict Define Us

There are times we get so caught up in a dispute that we become defined by it. In other words, our life focuses on being in conflict and the associated emotions and dynamics, such that our scope of life is limited. We view everything around us in negative terms. Pessimism, negativity, hopelessness, sadness, despair, anger and other feelings prevail.

It’s not an easy (or straightforward) task to consider why some disputes take over our being at these times and why or how we let certain people or situations overwhelm us. Being in such states of heart and mind in which we are attached to a conflict often alienates others, takes up energy and time (ours and others), and otherwise consumes us.

Why does this occur? It may be because the other person has deeply undermined something important to us; she or he may have hurt us to our core by something said or done; our sense of security, what we value and believe is true might feel threatened; we might perceive or experience that our safety is at risk; and other reasons knock us off balance as to be totally enveloped by being wronged.

The impact of such reactions to the other person and the conflict situation is dramatic – not only for us. Those around us also become involved in various ways and often, against their desire to be part of the toxicity ailing us. That is, sympathy and empathy may diminish and support we counted on might get lost.

If you have found yourself defined by a conflict, this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog might be helpful to explore.

What is the conflict about?

In what ways have you become defined by it?

What specific definition might you use to describe yourself?

What feelings are you experiencing?

How might others observing/hearing you talk about the conflict define you?

What keeps you most attached to this conflict?

What might it take for you to become less attached to this conflict?

How will you define yourself when you are no longer attached to the conflict?

What feelings will describe you, then?

What difference in what and how you will be is the most compelling reason to let go of the conflict? What is most compelling about staying attached to it?

What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?

What insights do you have?

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Being Sorry

Sometimes we are sorry about what we said in a conflict and say so. Sometimes we are not sorry but say we are anyway. Sometimes we are quick to express regret and sometimes we are slow. Sometimes asking for forgiveness is experienced as too soon and sometimes too late.

Like many other aspects of being in conflict, there is no rulebook. Whether we ask for forgiveness, express regret or forgive (or not) varies and depends on the person, the interaction, the gravity of hurt we experience, the needs and values undermined, and so on.

What often precludes moving on and getting past a conflict is not being ready to forgive or express regret, not accepting that the other person means she or he is sorry, not being sorry, not wanting to forgive, not viewing the other person’s words as forgivable and so on.

For this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog, consider firstly a situation in which you were not sorry for what you said and another in which you said you were sorry though you did not mean it.

What is the situation in which you are not sorry for what you said?

What did you say that you are not sorry about?

What compelled you to say what you did?

What difference does it make to you that you are not sorry?

What difference does it make to the other person that you are not sorry?

Considering a situation in which you said you are sorry and didn’t mean it (though it might be the same one), what occurred in that interaction?

What did you apologize for that you didn’t mean?

Why do you supposed you apologized?

What is bothering you most about saying you are sorry when you are not?

What difference does it make that you apologized and didn’t mean it?

What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?

What insights do you have?

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Being True to Yourself

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?
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Choosing Carefulness

When we become provoked by something the other person says or does, we have a choice about how to respond. That is, even though our initial response may be to react adversely, we do not actually need to retaliate, blame and otherwise demonstrate behaviours or use words that further add to the tension.

Of course, it’s not always easy to refrain from these sorts of negative reactions when we are hurt, offended, insulted and so on. It’s also not easy to consider, at these times, that we are at choice – to proceed carefully. Rather, we may not care about the other person or her or his feelings in the moment and instead, we just want to defend ourselves and hurt back.

In an effort to become more conflict masterful, this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider a situation in which someone has offended you and your tendency is or was to offend back. It’s about being careful and care-ful.

  • What is or was the situation?
  • What did the other person say that offended you?
  • What was most hurtful to you about that (your answer to the previous question)?
  • How might you describe your internal reaction to what the other person said or did?
  • What about what the other person said has some truth to it, if there is any, in your view?
  • What choices do or did you have regarding possible responses?
  • What response is a “careful” one?
  • What isn’t a “careful” one?
  • What makes the above-mentioned response “careful”?
  • What are the advantages of being “careful”? Disadvantages?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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Preparing to “Be” in Conflict

There are times we know we will encounter pushback, defensiveness, offensiveness and other negative reactions to issues we want to raise with another person. The mere idea of this can be daunting and preclude us from raising them. Or, if we do initiate such hard conversations, our trepidation might bring out words and behaviours from us that make matters worse.

Many of us do not prepare to be in conflict, though doing so usually serves to make the interaction easier than expected. We feel more confident and comfortable and we help make the situation better for the other person, too. In this way, the conflict conversation is more productive and less stressful.

For this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog, consider an interaction you anticipate will be conflict-inducing and fraught with tension – on a matter that is likely to cause a negative reaction by her or him.

  • What is the conversation to be about?
  • What do you think is most likely to lead to a conflict within it?
  • What reaction by the other person worries you most?
  • What else are you most concerned about?
  • To prepare for the conversation, what do you want to avoid saying because it is not really necessary and may lead to an adverse reaction?
  • How do you want to come across? That is, how do you want to be and be perceived?
  • What is the outcome you want?
  • What might the other person want as an outcome?
  • How will you respond in a way that is consistent with the outcome you want, if you become agitated by the other person?
  • What other ways might you consider to best prepare yourself so you will be most confident and also, help make the other person feel comfortable to engage with you (if that is what you want)?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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