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Stepping on Someone’s Toes

Cinergy Coaching by Cinnie Noble

Here’s another interesting metaphor to do with body parts and conflict. The visual here of ‘stepping on someone’s toes’ is, as with many idiomatic images, quite vivid. That is, I imagine the experience of having this happen – figurative though it is – would feel like an invasive, hurtful, and insulting act that can easily lead to conflict.

One definition describes this interaction as offending or insulting someone – as if causing physical pain. It is an expression that is also used when we become involved in or take over something that is not our responsibility.

Sometimes we are not aware that or when we are stepping on someone’s toes. Other times we may realize it and take the associated risks – out of spite, lack of care, or other reasons. When we step on peoples’ toes or they step on ours there is the chance that conflict will erupt and this blog is about how to proceed when that is a possibility.

It will help here to bring to mind a situation in which you experienced someone stepping on your toes when answering these ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions).

In what ways did the other person step on your toes?

At what point did you experience a reaction?

How do you describe your reaction?

What offended you most?

Why do you think she or he stepped on your toes?

If you don’t think the person intended to offend you, what do you suppose may have been happening that led to her or his actions?

Considering a situation when you stepped on someone else’s toes, if you have, what is your experience of doing so?

What was the other person’s reaction to you in that situation?

From what you can tell, in what ways may your own experience (of stepping on someone else’s toes) be similar to what is going on for the person who stepped on yours? What may be different?

When someone steps on your toes and you determine she or he did intend to offend you, what is a conflict masterful way of responding?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?


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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