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Making a Mountain Out of a Mole-Hill

Cinergy Coaching by Cinnie Noble

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.
The above observation of a common occurrence in interpersonal conflict describes what I consider ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’. According to Wikipedia, the earliest recorded use of this phrase is in a book (1548) by Nicholas Udall, thought to be one of the first people to use the expression. The historical meaning of this idiom had to do with “responding disproportionately to something – where a person exaggerates or makes too much of a minor issue”. This is consistent with the current meaning ascribed to this expression.
This week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog asks you to consider a current situation in which you are likely making a mountain out of a molehill. Or, consider one in which you know you did and use the past tense in the relevant questions.

  • What first provoked you, i.e. something said or done that led to a negative reaction in you?
  • What specifically about that seemed to lead to your inner reaction?
  • What was the inner reaction?
  • Considering that the provocation you refer to began as a molehill, how would you describe what the molehill is made of?
  • At what point did the molehill begin to grow into a mountain?
  • What changed that had an impact on the molehill’s growth?
  • What is in the mountain that wasn’t in the molehill?
  • How are you experiencing the mountain?
  • How may you have stopped the molehill from growing into a mountain?
  • What stopped you from doing that (your answer to the previous question)?
  • What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?
                        author

Cinnie Noble

Cinnie Noble is a certified coach (PCC) and mediator and a former lawyer specializing in conflict management coaching. She is the author of two coaching books: Conflict Management Coaching: The CINERGY™ Model and Conflict Mastery: Questions to Guide You. MORE >

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