resolve their interpersonal disputes independently and as close to the source, as possible
prepare for challenging conversations
prevent unnecessary conflict from escalating
shift unproductive conflict reactions, to constructive responses
manage their adverse reactions to conflict
TEST YOUR CONFLICT RESILIENCE
Learning how to better engage in interpersonal conflict is just one of many goals of people who seek conflict coaching. Managing the aftermath of conflict is often fraught with challenges for many people and lingering unresolved feelings and issues can preclude internal resolution and reconciliation. Consider the following two scenarios, as an example of challenges with post-conflict resilience.
Margaret and Enid have worked beside each other in the same cubicle for seven years. Over time, they have been able to successfully work out a range of concerns that both have raised over various matters from the loudness of the radio, to the smell of perfume. They are not best of friends, but until now they have demonstrated mutual respect and sincere efforts to work well together.
The other day, Enid told Margaret that she was fed up with the way Margaret talked to their colleagues. They had an argument about this matter and eventually with the help of a mediator, came to a mutual understanding of the situation and one another’s feelings about it. Margaret is trying to not let some things Enid said continue to bother her. However, she is finding it difficult to get over it and is not communicating with Enid as she used to.
David and Barry are co-workers and their relationship has been competitive since they started to work together two years ago. Both men recently applied for the same job as Team Leader and the competition between them escalated. In the end, neither man got the job. Both were disappointed and began to engage in counterproductive conduct.
David’s and Barry’s manager called them into her office and facilitated a discussion between them. The friction seemed to abate. Barry however, reported to a conflict coach he decided to see that he is offended by David’s continuing underhanded tactics, such as criticizing his work to co-workers and undermining him at staff meetings.
These are just two examples of ongoing dissension having an impact on one or more people who have had a dispute. Even when conflict appears to be settled, it is not uncommon that negative feelings prevail, for one or more of the people involved. Situations such as these when people may find they are not bouncing back after a conflict, have the potential for leading to increasing tension and repeated arguing. It may even be the case that ongoing feelings and thoughts may be just as destructive as the interaction that precipitated the dispute. Lack of resilience shows up in many ways and often ends up forming habits that do not work for us and that become part of the baggage we carry from relationship to relationship.
Exploring the ways we are and are not resilient is a helpful exercise to help focus energy on areas to work on in coaching, in this regard. Here are some questions to check your Conflict Resilience Quotient (CRQ).
CONFLICT RESILIENCE QUOTIENT TEST:
After a conflict, I tend to: ANSWER TRUE or FALSE to each
Stop thinking about what the other person said or did that offended me, within a short period of time (few days).
2. Forgive and do not bear a grudge, or ill feelings about the other person.
3. Reflect on my part of the conflict.
4. Reach out to make amends or discuss things with the other person.
5. Consider what I may have done differently
6. Identify what may have been important to the other person that I missed, or did not pay attention.
7. Apologize for my part of the conflict.
8. Gain a better appreciation for and understanding of the other person’s perspective, even if I don’t agree with it.
9. Not blame myself for what I did or said (or didn’t say or do).
10. Let go of blaming the other person for what s/he did or said (or didn’t say/do).
SCORING YOUR CONFLICT RESILIENCE QUOTIENT
Determine your CRQ: Add up the “Trues,” and if you marked:
10 “Trues” – You are definitely conflict resilient. 7-9 “Trues” – You are fairly conflict resilient and may want to explore the areas that are not true for you. 4-6 “Trues” – Your conflict resilience quotient is low and conflict coaching is in order. 0-4 “Trues” – You are not conflict resilient, and you likely alienate those around you.
If your ratings on the CRQ result in six or less “Trues”, you will have a number of areas on which to focus, if you want to strengthen your conflict management skills. It helps to begin by reflecting on what you will gain by improving your conflict resilience in these areas and what you risk by not doing so. The consequences of not building your conflict resilience muscle are those you probably already experience, in the aftermath of disputes. This may include among other things, irreconcilable feelings and unresolved issues that continue to show up in your relationships and how you engage in conflict.
Some interpersonal conflicts are more upsetting than others and our ability to get over conflict varies, depending on the person and situation. Learning more about ourselves and the way we manage conflict, before, during and after conflict, is critical to developing conflict resilience skills and increasing our Conflict Resilience Quotient. Conflict coaching helps us take a closer look at these matters and work towards responding in ways that work better for us.
Cinnie Noble, ACC, CM, LL.M. (ADR), is a Canadian lawyer-mediator and ICF certified coach who created the CINERGY® model of conflict coaching. This article was published in the Peer Bulletin #174 and is available to members at www.peer.ca, March 3, 2009.