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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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Are You Really Listening?

“Are you really listening…or are you just waiting for your turn to talk?” R. Montgomery

Listening is likely the most needed skill when in conflict. However, as this quote indicates, it is more often that we are not really hearing what the other person is saying – just waiting to speak. Or, we interrupt to get our point across sooner than later. In my experience as a conflict specialist, I commonly hear from coaching clients or observe in mediations a strong tendency to shut down the other person by not listening and really hearing. Or, we selectively choose what we hear and respond to that.

When in the midst of conflict, it’s not easy to just listen, to not filter the conversation the way we think or feel it is going, to stay calm, and to really hear what the other person is saying. It’s not easy to ask questions, to clarify, or to check out assumptions. It’s not easy to hear things that hurt and offend. It’s not easy to make sure we know what the other person is conveying that reflects what is important to them and challenges what is important to us. It’s not easy to hold off expressing our views and “fighting” back.

Here are some Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) to consider about a dispute you are or were recently in and check out what you heard:

  • What is or was the dispute about?
  • What did you have most trouble hearing that the other person said?
  • What did you have most trouble understanding about what they said?
  • What did the other person say that hurt you most?
  • What assumptions are you making about the other person’s intent for saying the things that hurt you?
  • What do you think the other person’s perception is of the dispute?
  • What about their perception is understandable? What isn’t?
  • What important point that you made do you think the other person didn’t hear? Why do you think that is the case?
  • What assumptions is the other person making about you because you don’t think they heard you?
  • What might help you both listen and hear each other?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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

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Words Are Like Spears

A Yoruban proverb goes “Words are like spears: Once they leave your lips they can never come back.” In the conflict management field, where I spend most of my time, I have to say this quote and its meaning struck me as more profound than many. In the midst of conflict, many of us say things we regret and agonize about for long periods, even when the conflict is ostensibly over. What is more, there is no taking back the things that cut us deeply or that we say that cut others deeply. Rather, there is often an indelible mark left by sharp words.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog asks you to consider a time when someone expressed spear-like words to you and another when you expressed words that hurt someone deeply.

  • When you think of a time someone said something very hurtful to you that remains raw, what was that?
  • What made that (your answer to the above question) especially cutting?
  • How would you describe the feelings you experienced as a result?
  • When you think about the interaction now, what do you think led to the person saying something that hurt so deeply?
  • For what have you forgiven the person for? What have you not forgiven?
  • What might heal the wound for you?
  • When you have hurt someone else deeply, what did you say and do? What propelled you to do so?
  • What do you think the other person feels about this now?
  • What has stuck with you for which you cannot forgive yourself?
  • What might you do to help heal the other person’s wound?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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

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Peace Within

Being at peace within ourselves, interacting peacefully, caring about peace, looking peaceful and engendering peace. These and other ways of living and embodying peace are ways of being in the world and in our relationships that show we have peace in us. If it happens though that one (or more) of these characteristics falls away when we are in conflict, it is a time to consider how to regain peace within. Otherwise, the inner conflict ends up being both internally and externally harmful.

When this happens, we may say or do things contrary to our values; we might offend the other person; and we may lose perspective, understanding and empathy.

You may be asking, is it possible to maintain peace within when we encounter others’ anger, when we are hurt, or when we become offended and caught off-guard by insults and verbal attacks on our character and things important to us?

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog suggests the answer to this question is no, and invites you to consider the following:

  • As you bring to mind an interpersonal dispute in which you reacted, what was it specifically that unsettled your inner peace?
  • How do you usually describe that state of peace inside you?
  • How do you usually describe how you appear in your state of peace?
  • When your inner peace was disrupted in the dispute to which you referred to above, how did you react outwardly?
  • When your inner peace was disrupted, how did you react inwardly?
  • How did you prefer to be described at this time?
  • What could you have said differently to retain your peaceful way of being?
  • What could you have done for yourself to be able to maintain your equilibrium?
  • What stopped you from doing the above (in response to the above 2 questions)?
  • What might you do differently in the future if you experience your inner peace being challenged? What would you say differently?
  • 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, Peace | Leave a comment

Conflict: Getting In Our Own Way

It happens, at times, that we get in our own way when a conflict erupts or is about to. This means doing things like making assumptions about the other person without checking them out; blaming; taking all the responsibility; not taking any responsibility; yielding; avoiding; name-calling; withdrawing; having selective recall that serves us only; not forgiving; not apologizing for our part; and so on.

These and other ways we might choose to manage a fractious interaction get in our way of effective engagement and satisfactory resolution. Essentially, by choosing to speak and act in counterproductive ways, we sabotage a dispute’s potential for success, for reconciliation and for mutual understanding.

Your answers to the following questions about a specific situation in which you may have gotten in your way might provide insights into how and why:

  • What was the situation?
  • In what ways did you get in your own way?
  • For what reasons did you do that (your answer to the previous question)?
  • What about how you got in your way in that situation indicates a pattern you have about how you generally manage conflict?
  • What sorts of triggers bring on that way of reacting, i.e. the person, the issue(s), the dynamic between you and the other person, etc.?
  • What metaphor might describe you or the method you use to get in your own way when in conflict?
  • What happens when you get in your way? What stops you from getting out of your own way?
  • What methods have you used to get out of your own way in the past?
  • How might one or more of those methods work in the situation you described (in response to the first question)?
  • How might you stop yourself from getting in your way in the future?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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

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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

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