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I was fairly young when I first heard the idiom ‘you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’. It was one of my mother’s pearls of wisdom. Her name was Pearle and so, she took her name seriously by dispensing precious lessons on life with short homilies and expressions.
Disputes: A Clash of Imperfect Ideas
It is common in the midst of conflict that we become more assertive about our perspective – especially when the other person is equally or more assertive about hers or his. One or both of us may push our viewpoints to the extent that things escalate and stronger feelings evolve – accompanied by even more push back. It is as though both of us are convinced and have to convince the other that our view is the perfect and correct one.
The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back
I have used the expression “the straw that broke the camel’s back” or a similar idiom when referring to an incident that pushes an ongoing situation too far across a line of tolerance. I didn’t know the derivation of this particular expression and when I looked it up I found the meaning is consistent with this same notion.
Forgiving When Asked
Forgive me. I apologize. I was an idiot. You didn’t deserve what I said. I was so wrong. I didn’t mean it. You are a saint for putting up with me. Will you please forgive me? In whatever form requests for forgiveness take, it is not incumbent upon the receiver to forgive. For some reason many people think they ‘should’ forgive or at least say they do. It’s just not always that straightforward.
As we know, the word please is usually meant to be a polite statement that accompanies a request of another. With a drawn out pronunciation and sarcastic intonation, this word can turn quickly into an expression that reflects disgust, disapproval, anger, and disagreement. ‘Puullease’ may be used to dismiss the other person, to criticize, or to put them down. In any case, saying this word in the way just described typically leaves little room for conciliatory dialogue.
Some research on the expression “mending fences” indicates that the derivation is from the proverb “Good fences make good neighbours”. It is apparently listed by the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations as a mid-17th century idiom. My source states that Robert Frost gave the proverb a boost in his 1914 poem “Mending Walls” when he used the above expression to essentially mean rebuilding previously good relationships. There was a slight aberration in the late 1800’s when mending fences came to mean ‘looking after your own interests’. In the 20th century the original meaning resumed.
Making a Mountain Out of a Mole-Hill
When we begin to experience irritation about something happening with another person, our thoughts and feelings sometimes go to places that are not helpful for the situation and relationship with the other person. We may not always be aware of what is exacerbating things, but before we know it our initial responses have taken twists and turns that only serve to complicate matters. As things expand in our minds and hearts, we often find ourselves more and more conflicted, confused, and upset. As things get bigger they may not even be a reasonable facsimile of what they were in the beginning.
Jumping to Conclusions
Jumping to conclusions can easily cause or perpetuate a conflict situation. This idiom – jumping to conclusions – refers to a tendency to assume something as negative when there is not necessarily a reason to do so. Conclusions may be about another person’s character, motives, attitude, and rationale. This sort of thinking may come from the habitual inclination to think the worst, to not trust ourselves or others, to let our insecurities and fears take over, and so on.
Giving People the Benefit of the Doubt
As soon as we begin to react to someone who provokes us there are options about how to proceed. One of those is to give the person the benefit of the doubt. This expression apparently refers to the legal phrase “reasonable doubt” first documented in the 18th Century English law. The phrase was accepted as the degree of doubt required to acquit a criminal defendant and was defined in terms of moral certainty. In the 20th Century “reasonable doubt” was given constitutional status in the U.S. as a standard that reduces the risk of false convictions. This expression continues to be commonly used when assessing criminal culpability.
Conflict: Fact or Fiction?
Our perceptions of what actually occurred in a dispute are not all that reliable in the aftermath of hurtful interactions. Our emotional experiences of conflict have a huge impact on us and one of the results is that our perspective on what happened gets muddled and muddied. What we think is an absolute truth about the event and the exchange about it is often not the other person’s perception of the absolute truth.
Standing Up for Yourself
Sometimes during conflict we lose our confidence and composure. We may become plagued with self-doubt and feel we are not able to stand up for ourselves. We back down at these times and give in to the other person. We may regret doing so and admonish ourselves for lack of courage or ‘guts’. This and other self-limiting beliefs eat away at our self-esteem and we may feel all the more helpless and powerless.
Fighting When in Conflict
Fighting with others is not a necessary part of being in conflict, though for many people these are synonymous. The inclination to fight is one reaction when we are having an interpersonal disagreement with another person. The situation, the person, the stakes, the degree we perceive the offense, and so on are variables that determine which approach we take when provoked and the extent to which we react.
Freezing When in Conflict
When considering that one response to being provoked is to freeze, this week’s blog encourages thinking about what that means and what to do about it. So, what does freezing mean in the context of conflict? It may be a matter of becoming hard and cold internally or towards the other person or both. It may also be a reaction that reflects feeling immobilized. We feel powerless to know what to say or do. Typically, our brains are ‘on hold’ and we are not able to think at these times. These and other ways that freezing affects us have a huge impact on the journey that our interpersonal conflicts take. That is, if we freeze, regardless of the form it takes, the result of such a response effects the outcome.
Feeling Confused in Conflict?
In the midst of conflict, it is common to feel confused – wondering what is happening and why, experiencing mixed emotions, feeling out of control or immobilized, and so on. At these times, we often don’t have a sense of what to do or what to say. Since our confusion obviously interferes with our ability to think clearly, we may tend to act and react on emotions. The outcome we want, how to get there, and how to manage our emotions are muddled in our hearts and brains.
The Cold Shoulder
One of the reactions to people who provoke us is to give them ‘the cold shoulder’. In the dictionaries I consulted, I found that the source of this is Sir Walter Scott. There is no reason explaining its derivation but rather descriptors of what the expression reflects, including words such as aloofness and disdain. 2 Comments
Reading Into Things
It’s not a straightforward exercise to figure out from where and how our assumptions come to us. Life experience, family, friends, teachers, observations, gossip, others’ tales, and a wide range of variables have an impact on our thinking. How we interpret peoples’ words, actions, behaviours, attitudes, etc. leads us to act and react in ways that are based on our assumptions – not necessarily on what is actually intended. Conflict can easily arise from erroneous perceptions and misinterpretations. Unexplored attributions are antithetical to any effort to master conflict responses.
Conflict Management Coaching at the Transportation Security Administration
In 2003, the Transportation Security Administration, (TSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, initiated the development of an Integrated Conflict Management System (ICMS), as part of an innovative Model Workplace Program. A Conflict Management Coaching Program (CMCP) emerged early on as one of the many unique service delivery components of this ICMS. This article discusses how this innovative program was designed and addresses how the CMCP has emerged as an integral component of TSA’s ICMS.
Measuring Conflict Coaching
As it becomes a more defined technique in the ADR field, those who provide conflict coaching will be increasingly discussing its many applications and also, the ways to increase its legitimacy, as a distinct mechanism. This article suggests that to successfully increase conflict coaching’s credibility, it is important that practitioners together with the organization for which they work (or for which they provide external services), consider how this process may be measured as a mechanism that increases conflict competence and short circuits the unnecessary escalation of conflict.
Mindfulness in Conflict Coaching
Conflict coaching is a fast emerging technique in the field of ADR. As a specialized process for helping individuals effectively engage in conflict, coaches assist individuals to determine what will best enable them to reach their objectives, when it comes to how they manage a specific dispute, or conflict in general. To provide coaching in a way that is client-centered and transformative, it is important that coaches develop the capacity to be mindful. 1 Comment
Conflict Coaching – When It Works And When It Doesn't
Conflict coaching is a one on one voluntary and confidential process that combines ADR and coaching principles. It is at its very essence, an individualized method for helping people effectively engage in conflict. The focus of this article is when conflict coaching works and when it does not.
A Coach Approach For Conflict Management Training
It is an understatement to say that generic conflict management training is really not enough. That is, it is not realistic to operate on the basis that one to three days of training in conflict management, fully equips people to effectively manage conflict, between themselves and others, or as a facilitator/mediator. It is a great start. However, it has become increasingly clear to this trainer, that other modalities such as pre and/or post-training coaching on conflict management, a staged approach to training and other methods help facilitate, optimize and sustain learning. 2 Comments
Post Mediation Coaching
As the field of coaching takes a foothold in the conflict management world, best practices and procedures will increasingly develop. Some dispute resolution professionals have been providing various forms of coaching in their work, for many years. However, there appears to be a growth in the development of a one-to-one coach approach for among other things, helping people improve their conflict management skills, prevent unnecessary disputes and to effectively resolve those that do arise. This article is about post-mediation coaching, one of the applications of coaching.
Peer Conflict Coaching: Another Dispute Resolution Option
Conflict coaching is a concept that combines dispute resolution and coaching principles. It is a one-on-one confidential and voluntary process in which coaches work with individual clients to help them resolve disputes and to prevent unnecessary ones. Peer coaching may be used for many reasons and in many contexts, including conflict. Peer conflict coaching is a specific process in which staff members coach others at their same 'level'. That is, manager to manager, non-manager to non-manager.
Mediation Coaching: A Form Of Conflict Coaching
To varying degrees, mediators coach parties when assisting them throughout the mediation process and particularly, in pre-mediations. However, the premise of mediation coaching as a form of conflict coaching, is that the coach assists one of the parties who wants help with matters that are beyond the usual scope of the mediator’s role. The role of a coach in terms of preparing and supporting a party for mediation is also quite different from a client’s union or legal representative, who may take a more adversarial approach that focuses on strategy and result.
Conflict Coaching For Leaders
One of the areas with which leaders often require help is conflict management. Executives and people in managerial positions typically view conflict as inevitable, but do not always realize how their workplaces and their strength as leaders may be improved with increased competency in conflict management.
Options In Conflict Management System Design
Some organizations name conflict management as a competency, assessing managers’ proficiency in developing working relationships that prevent and resolve disputes in the workplace. How to help managers (and other staff) become proficient may be accomplished in a number of ways, including through conflict management systems that provide multiple options and access points for users. 1 Comment
Conflict Coaching: A Preventative Form of Dispute Resolution
The fields of coaching and dispute resolution effectively unite in the provision of interest-based conflict coaching. Mediators have operative skills and knowledge to apply ADR principles for the purpose of coaching people to prevent and resolve disputes. The addition of conflict coach training expands that integral base and extends the dispute resolution field to one-on-one assistance with conflict management.
Conflict Management Through Coaching
Conflict management coaching combines ADR and the burgeoning field of coaching. This application of dispute resolution skills is aimed at helping individuals improve the way they deal with conflict in general. Conflict coaching may also be used to prepare a party for a specific negotiation or mediation. In all cases, conflict coaching requires practitioners to use many of the skills DR professionals apply as mediators, but in a different context and on a one-to-one basis. 1 Comment