AVOIDING THE TRAPS

Submitting to the reptile in you 

 

POWERFUL QUESTIONS

The executives and managers we meet regularly stress the fact - confirmed by research studies - that the number of conflicts at work has significantly grown over the last years, making their work more challenging as they spend more time than before trying to help others solve interpersonal conflicts or.... find themselves struggling with inner conflicts. 
This has led us to dedicate several chapters of Leading Purposefully to this topic: Submitting to the reptile in you, Dealing with negative emotions and stress and, in Part III, Embracing conflict (Daring to think and act differently).
 
In this first section, you are invited to reflect on your experience of conflict and to:  
 
- Explore how mercilessly you treat yourself and others
- Understand how do you tend to deal with conflict 
- Reflect about storms
- Think about anger
- Assess how destructive or constructive you are 
- Check if you have a problem  
- Challenge the way you look at conflict 
Explore how mercilessly you treat yourself and others
T. Crum: "We beat ourselves so mercilessly in contests we have created out of our imagined need to be right, when what we really need is to take ourselves more lightly, which will enable us to move more easily to an appropriate resolution of the conflict"
We invite you to reflect on the following questions:
- Have you ever worked for someone who always wanted to be 'right'? What was the impact on you? What did you do? What did you           learn? 
- What makes you think you are 'right'? How often and when do you want to be 'right' with others? 
- Do you tend to accumulate things, successes, relationships? How could being too 'driven' to achieve results jeopardize the results you       want to achieve? 
- Could you take yourself more lightly? What would it take? 
- How could you explore appropriate solutions to conflicts with others more often? 
Understand how you tend to deal with conflict 
D. Gonin: "Avoiding, accommodating, forcing, compromising or cooperating... a matter of 'destiny' and inborn preferences, or is this just a poor excuse to avoid free choice?  "
We invite you to reflect on the following questions:
- When and how do you tend to avoid conflict? To postpone? To sidestep? To withdraw? To avoid surfacing an issue that  needs                     addressing? 
- When and how are you accommodating? Neglecting your own concerns too much to satisfy others? 
- When and how are you forcing your position? What could be the costs of forcing your position? Could it outweigh the benefits? 
- When and how are you compromising? Finding expedient solutions? Could everyone end up dissatisfied? Could self-esteem be                 endangered? 
- When and how do you cooperate? Working through hard feelings? Finding a solution that satisfies the concerns of both - or all -                 parties? 
Reflect about storms  
D. Gonin: "After the storm, the sky is so blue... After the storm at work, the team is so full of energy... After the storm at home, the evening is so peaceful..."
We invite you to reflect on the following questions:
- Think of a time in your life when you decided to leave a person or leave your job and/for the organisation you were then a part of. What     happened? What led you to leave? What was positive about this change? 
- Think of a time in your life when a person left you - or a time when you moved to another job or fired. How did you react? What                   happened to you? What did you discover and learn about yourself? 
- What happens in a team when people are tired with the lack of vision,unclear objectives, overlapping roles? What are some of the good   outcomes that can come out of 'storming'? 
- What is the price you can pay when you avoid 'storming' at all cost? 
- What makes you want to avoid storms? How can denying or suppressing your emotions lead to miss a healthy storm? 
 
Think about anger
Buddha: "There was a man who was apt to get angry easily. One day two men were talking in front of this house about him. One said: 'He is a nice man but very impatient; he has a hot temper and gets angry very easily.' The man overheard the remark, rushed out of the house and attacked the two men, striking and kicking and wounding them... When a wise man is advised of his errors, he will reflect on them and improve his conduct. When his misconduct is pointed out, a foolish man will not only disregard the advise but rather repeat the same error."
Think of a situation in which you reacted angrily, at work or outside work:
- What happened? 
- How did you react? What did you do? 
- How did this affect the way you perceive similar events? 
Ten revisit your underlying thoughts and beliefs:
- What personal thoughts or beliefs led you to your anger, emotion and reaction? 
- How did your interpretation or judgment of the event led to this emotions and reaction? 
- Could there be a different way to interpret this event or situation? 
Assess how destructive or constructive you are 
T. Brake, D&T Walker: "The management challenge is to mold conflict into a constructive form (i.e. conflict that surfaces important issues; facilitates learning growth and creativity, develops trust and openness) and then manage it over time."
We invite you to reflect on the following questions:
- Do you ever manage conflict in a destructive form (i.e. suppressing or denying important issues; blocking or inhibiting learning; fostering   defiance and mistrust)? What makes you behave that way? 
- What's the price you could end up paying as a result of handling conflict in a destructive way? 
- When faced with conflict, how do you surface important issues? How could you do this more? What prevents you from doing it? 
- How could you seize the opportunity of conflict to help all the parties involved learn grow and develop? 
- How can conflict support us in developing more open and trustful relationships? At work? In our personal life
Check if you have a problem 
R. Bach: "If your happiness depends on what somebody else does... you do have a problem."
We invite you to reflect on the following questions:
- Have you ever been in a relationship were your stability and happiness were dependent on another person? At work? In your personal       life? 
- What are the feelings and emotions of people who, as adults, are dependent on other persons? 
- What do people who are dependent on others tend to do to survive? 
- How and when to you build relationships where people become dependent on you ? At work? In your personal life? 
- What can you do to build more centered relationships at work? In your personal life? 
Challenge the way you look at conflict 
T. Crum: "Winning and losing are goals for games, not for conflicts."
We invite you to reflect on the following questions:
- If conflict was not what you think, what could it be? 
- If, when there is difficulty or a conflict, winning or losing are not possible options, what could your options be?
- What if conflict was not negative, nor positive? What then could it be? 
- What if the major reason for conflict was our own incapacity to acknowledge and appreciate differences?
- If there was a conflict inside you, what could it be? 
- What if conflict was a gift off energy? How could you use this gift? 
- What if conflict was an opportunity to learn, to grow? 
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