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The Cold Shoulder

  • Cinergy Coaching by Cinnie Noble

    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.

    Idioms like this and others – for instance, ‘getting our noses out of joint’ – are vivid in the physical images they conjure up. When we are in conflict we usually show it some way in our bodies and faces and we also pick up signals of other people’s bad moods and negativity by their facial and somatic signs. We may not always have the emotions correct but most of us are able to discern when things are amiss and when those things are directed at us.

    For this week’s blog consider two situations – one in which you are experiencing or have experienced someone giving you ‘the cold shoulder’. The other is when you have given someone else ‘the cold shoulder’.

    How do you describe ‘the cold shoulder’ when someone else demonstrates it?

    How does ‘the cold shoulder’ impact you at these times?

    What is the message you ‘read’ or ‘hear’ when you experience ‘the cold shoulder’?

    What do you say or do, if anything, when someone gives you ‘the cold shoulder’?

    When you give someone else ‘the cold shoulder’ what does that look like?

    What reasons may you choose to give ‘the cold shoulder’?

    What does giving ‘the cold shoulder’ accomplish?

    What message(s) was (were) you meaning to convey in the situation you have in mind when you gave someone ‘the cold shoulder’?

    What would be a more effective way to give that message rather than give the ‘cold shoulder’?

    What would a ‘warm shoulder’ look like?

    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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