art work by John Ceprano
CINERGY (tm) - Peacebuilding... one person at a time

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.

Posted in Conflict Management Coaching | 8 Comments

Message Gleaned About Conflict From a Tweet

A few months ago, I posted a quote on Twitter that a colleague sent me because she thought I’d like it. And I do. Here it is:

This post was retweeted just under 300 times by the time of this blog and “liked” over 800 times and I found that interesting. Since I usually post on conflict management topics, I thought about a way to link the spirit of the quote with how its essence might relate to practicing ways to “do” conflict better.

When it comes to interpersonal conflict, reaching our personal and professional potential to be effective at conflict is fraught with challenges. Along the way, we use and default to habits that don’t serve us well. For instance, sometimes under the strain of fractious interactions, we act in ways we don’t respect about ourselves; we hurt others; we say and do foolish things; we find fault; we insult; we put others down; we ignore; we reject; we fabricate; we do not empathize; we are careless; we are thoughtless; we are selfish; we judge; we patronize; we do not take responsibility; and so on.

Relying on habits about how we interact in conflict means we do not consider we have control over our reactions and are “at choice” and that there are alternative ways to approach interpersonal dissension. To effectively engage in interactions when they become problematic we, like Pablo Casals, can practice how to be better at conflict. This may mean learning ways to better manage our emotions, our words and our bodies. It may mean practicing different ways of communicating so as to not hurt others and risk irreconcilable results. It may mean choosing other ways to assert and defend our views. I could go on with the practices we could take on to do conflict better – and well, I guess we may still be practicing at age 90!

Please consider these questions if you need more practice at being better at conflict:

  • What are three specific challenges you have with being in conflict?
    • 1)
    • 2)
    • 3)
  • What do you think you need to practice to improve each of the above challenges?
    • 1)
    • 2)
    • 3)
  • If good friends or family who observed you in conflict were to advise you what you could specifically practice, what might they add?
  • What do you imagine would be the hardest one of the above-named challenges to improve? What makes that one the hardest?
  • When you change the way you engage in conflict, how do you want to be described by the same people you had in mind in the third question?
  • What would you like to begin with to improve your conflict competence?
  • What would you need to practice to accomplish this (your answer to the above question)?
  • How will you measure your progress?
  • How old do you want to be when you no longer need practice with these challenges?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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

Posted in Conflict Coaching, Conflict Management Coaching | Leave a comment

Change the Frame: The Picture Changes

When we are in conflict, we often conjure up a way to describe what’s going on when we relate it to others. And that version is not always 100% accurate. For example, we might make assumptions about the other person; we perceive the story in ways that serve us and build a case against the other person; we minimize our contribution; we construct a frame that strengthens our perspective; and so on. For the most part, we put a frame around our stories when we tell others in order to justify our viewpoint and criticize the other’s.

The thing is, the frame may be crooked; it may be unsuited to the picture we painted of our conflict; it may be too big or too small; or it may even be broken.

In this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog, you are invited to consider the frame you’ve put around your conflict and what one might be most appropriate.

  • In the specific conflict you have in mind, what happened?
  • When you have related the conflict to others, how do you frame your part?
  • What words do you use to describe your emotions that give depth to your experience in this conflict?
  • What part or parts do you leave out in the telling of what happened?
  • What part of the frame – regarding your part – is not altogether true?
  • How might the other person frame how you are coming across?
  • How do you frame the other person’s part in the conflict? What part of that do you not know for sure?
  • What words do you use to describe their emotions about their experience?
  • What part or parts of the other’s experience are you likely framing incorrectly?
  • What frame may work for both of you?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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

Posted in Conflict Coaching, Conflict Management Coaching | Leave a comment

Three Sides to Every Story

When we talk about an interpersonal dispute between two people, we commonly say there are two sides to every story – the other person’s version of events and issues and our own. However, many say there are three sides, and a relevant quote by Jeyn Roberts (Rage Within) is:

“There are three sides to every story.
Yours.
Mine.
What really happened: the truth.”

Honestly, I don’t think referring to the third side as the “truth” is altogether accurate. For me, referring to there being a true side implies right and wrong of the other perspectives, and it seems that’s not altogether the optimal approach. That is, when we are in conflict, it is usual that we each believe our perceptions are truths. We believe in what we say and experience. We might at some level of consciousness realize when and how our emotions interfere and drive our interpretation of the other person and their intent out of proportion. Or, we may be aware our truth contains assumptions and views that are not based on fact. Or, we know we are exaggerating – even fabricating – to serve ourselves.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider an ongoing, unresolved dispute you are involved in when answering the following questions – to consider three sides of the story:

  • What is the situation? What is your side of the story?
  • How might the other person describe their side of the story?
  • What is true for you about the situation that the other person doesn’t know or seem to acknowledge?
  • What don’t you know or understand about the other person’s version of their truth?
  • What is the truth about your contribution that you have some reluctance to share?
  • How might a third person observing the dispute describe what happened?
  • With what might that third person disagree that you said?
  • What is most challenging about facing the truths in this conflict?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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

Posted in Conflict Coaching, Conflict Management Coaching | 4 Comments

Conflict: Blown Out of Proportion

It happens, at times, that our conflicts get blown out of proportion. This means we have a reaction that is too large for the situation. Essentially, that we are treating a problem more seriously than the context merits.

We might let a situation evolve in this way for any number of reasons. It could be we are so hurt that our outrage takes over and we end up fabricating facts to serve us and make the other person wrong. In this regard, we may describe what the other person said or did in ways we interpret them rather than what might be the actual facts. We may have reached our level of tolerance regarding certain behaviours, leading to over-the-top descriptions. We may have a tendency to be overly dramatic or inclined to take on a victim-type role, or we may generally be an exaggerator. These and other reasons may account for why we blow a situation out of proportion.

If you think you have blown a situation our of proportion or maybe, the other person or someone else accused you of doing so, try this set of Conflict Mastery Quest(ions):

  • What is the situation? What impact is this situation having on you?
  • What portion or portions might you be exaggerating?
  • For what reason(s) do you suppose you are making that portion or those portions different than it was or they were?
  • What need do you suppose you are fulfilling by making that portion or those portions bigger than they are?
  • What purpose does it serve to exaggerate the situation?
  • If you hadn’t made that portion or portions bigger, what different impact might there have been or be on you?
  • What different impact would there be on the other person?
  • What might be a more proportionate description of the situation?
  • How does it impact you to describe the situation without blowing it out of proportion?
  • What doesn’t work for you when you do so (your answer to the above question)?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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

Posted in Conflict Coaching, Conflict Management Coaching | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Conflict Coaching, Conflict Management Coaching | Leave a comment