How to enjoy your conflicts

Dear apocalypse survivors,

Some colleagues asked me how can we use a "coaching approach" in order to deal with conflicts.

So, now we are talking about that.

First of all, would like to do a "language distinction". And I may say that I don't find these verbs functional in front of human conflicts:
  • solve 
  • resolve
  • deal
  • manage 
  • reduce
  • remove
  • avoid
Many of them, assumes that a conflict is a "problem to solve", or at least some kind of "disgusting reality" that we want to avoid. And if we can reduce the amount of conflicts to zero, then we will be happy.

Can you imagine a world without lawyers?" : TheSimpsons

Can you imagine a World without Conflicts?

That's why I decided to use the word "enjoy". Because it can break down all negative assumptions about conflicts.

Conflicts are something to avoid? to remove? to solve?

No. Absolutely not.

Conflicts are part of our human nature and interaction. It's a gap.

And many times, we may found in a situation where we should "create a conflict". Because through the conflict, we can change reality.

Conflicts are opportunities

I see conflicts like opportunities for:
  • Intelligence
  • Learning
  • Performance
  • Improvement
The conflict is an opportunity to grow and increase your soft skills and performance.

They are opportunities for Intelligence, because you can discover if you are holding a wrong position by listening to people that thinks different.

And of course, they are opportunities for Learning, for self-discovery, for self-improvement. We can develop many skills, thanks to the conflict.

aja... ok, then...

What can we do?

First we need to understand conflict's nature.

The main point behind a conflict is a "disagreement". Into that disagreement lies the opportunity for new ideas, knowledge and intelligence. As we can discover new ways of thinking, and of course new perspectives and options.

Lo diferente no esta mal , solo es... - Mi Punto de Vista | Facebook

Of course the connection between the two sides of this disagreement is the language. Both verbal and non-verbal.

One of the key secrets to discover something new is to make an effort to understand other persons perspectives, instead of defending your own subjective one.

Moreover: the fact that you (may) be right, doesn't mean the other is wrong.

A maturity metric

A clear metric about people, teams and organizations maturity, is the skill they have to walk through (enjoy) the conflicts.

5 pasos para educar niños emocionalmente inteligentes - Y PUNTO.

I don't remember now, where I listen this affirmation:

"High performance teams,
are able to solve conflicts
without assistance..."

Its a great one. That means: a great team, do have conflicts.

We can scale it to the organization:

"Organizations with a mature culture,
have many open spaces for discussion."

A low maturity mindset could consider the conflict as a "competition to win", the opposite, will see the possibility that we can "win by loosing". You can get a benefit, when you help others.

We can fell in the trap to think "what others should do for me" instead of "what I can do for others".

To Discuss or to not discuss, that's the question

In front of a conflict, there is two possible paths: to discuss, or to not.

The path for "no discuss" is the path for a breakup. Is the path to the divorce. Termination.

The discussion is the space where we can find the new solution.

In front of a conflict we normally see two options: fight or flight. Compete or escape.

And if we are not brave enough to compete, then we may choose an avoiding path. To became silent, invisible, or to move away from that place. To resign.... to emigrate.

Buffering Brain: Fight or Flight Response

To be able to open this space in the middle between "fight" and "flight" needs our talent. It can start, with a question.

A Coach can bring those questions to invite people to think about "what is possible?", instead of "how to win", or "how to escape".

And many times, even when we can hold a respectful and friendly conversation, is not enough to walk through the conflict, and not even to find a new overcoming reality.


How to transform a fight into a discussion

Kampf-oder-Flucht-Reaktion zu Bekämpfen Einfrieren Verhalten ...

Our mission, as Coaches, is to open a discussion space, between the fight and flight space.

In other words:
  • assist people to face conflicts they are avoiding
  • assist people on how to explore it without fighting
As Coaches, we can observe "Language". And that could be a great clue to know, if we are in presence of a fight, or a debate.

A discussion, can be converted into a fight, by using some of these "discussion enemies" (linguistic weapons)

Here is a collection of them, with some samples and possible solutions.

  • being "too busy" to address the discussion
    • Solution: focus on the value for each part, to bring priority for the discussion
  • being demanding
    • Solution: open negotiation and avoid judgements.
  • denial
    • "you cannot talk about this"
  • exaggerations
    • "what you did is terrible"
    • Solution: focus on solution and cooperation instead of blaming.
  • generalizations
    • using words like "always", "never", "everytime"
    • "you never help me"
    • "you never listen to me"
    • Solution: allow the counter part to express his perspective.
  • guessing
    • suppose others intentions
    • "I know why you say that"
    • "I know why you do that"
    • Solution: "we are here to find a win-win plan, not the guilty"
  • reiterative speech
    • try to paraphrase, instead repeating
    • Solution: invite to paraphrase and provide examples.
  • choose worst place and moment 
  • hostilely attack
    • insults, adjectives, silence
    • Solution:
      • moderate.
      • If the climax is not appropriate, advice that the meeting can be postponed or cancelled.
  • reproaching
    • bringing old problems to the table to get advantage
    • Solution: focus on the future and possibilities.
  • threatening
    • "if you do this..."
    • "if you don't do this..."
    • "If you don't do this, I will do that"
    • "If you do not do what I ask, when you ask me I will not..."
    • Solution: moderate.
  • manipulation
    • appeal to guilty feelings
    • Solution: invite to negotiate or sell the idea.

The 4 weapons for a fight are:
  • reproach
  • the blame
  • the threat
  • disqualification

A fight focus on: manipulation, domination, defeat, victory

A discussion focus on: negotiation, win-win

When there is no space for discussion,
then we must fight.

How to facilitate a discussion?

  • avoid to mediate or arbitrate
  • establish peer to peer communication (no enemies, no hierarchies)
  • expose each position
  • focus on finding a common understanding about the problem definition 
    • What is happening?
  • assist them to validate language and paraphrase
  • assist them to make offers and petitions
    • What do you need?
    • What can you offer?
  • assist them to build an action plan with shared responsibilities.
  • help them to declare their commitments
Practical example:
  • Preparation
    • Each person prepares his position before meeting
    • Invite them to "leave weapons behind"
    • "We are here to explain our perspective, we are here to listen, and we are here to negotiate"
    • "We are here to find a win-win plan"
    • Do you want to find a solution?
      • (question to find out current commitment)
  • Exposition
    • What's your issue?
    • What's happening?
    • What do you need from others?
    • What are you missing?
  • Paraphrasing
    • What did you understood, on your own words?
  • Offers and petitions. Negotiation
    • What do you need from the other side?
    • What can you offer?
  • Action Plan
    • What you plan to do for the change?
  • Commitments
    • Where do you focus your commitments?
    • What's your new commitment after this conversation?

The purpose of facilitation are:
  • build link's health
  • identify and transparent differences
  • negotiate mutual benefits
  • build a balanced action plan
  • paraphrase and summarize
  • make commitments
I wish you Happy Conflicting!

Thanks for reading!

Until next time!


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