You may have heard the African proverb “Don’t look where you fall, but where you slipped”. In a similar vein, I recently posted a similar sentiment on Instagram (@cinnien) that read “I’ve learned so much from my mistakes. I’m thinking about making a few more.” Both sets of these words are comforting to me – especially at those times I am kicking myself for things I said or did that offended someone, for not doing the ‘right’ thing in a situation, for making numerous errors at all sorts of things, for failing exams or losing a legal case, for not succeeding on a project, and so on. The reality is that unless we purposely make a habit of making mistakes and hurting others, we all slip.
When it comes to interpersonal conflicts, I expect that we have all said or done things or interacted in ways that have caused others hurt and upset. At times, we might be able to justify our own actions and words – being a way we stood up and defended ourselves from others’ poor behaviour towards us. At other times, we know we stepped over a boundary and feel very badly about that. We might ruminate and wonder what to do, and the feelings of unrest, guilt, shame and self-blame remain in our consciousness for long durations.
We can, of course, learn from our mistakes and likely, find more productive ways to engage in conflict when our buttons are pushed. A lot of the time, it seems our brains stay in the negative place and it takes a huge effort to shift our mindset.
This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog asks you to consider how to better manage the aftermath of an interpersonal conflict about which you continue to agonize, and see if you can shift your mindset to see whether it is really a slip and not a fall – perhaps, a mistake from which you have something to learn.
- What happened in that dispute?
- What did you specifically say or do that you know upset the other person?
- What motivated you to do so (your answer to the above questions)?
- What was the impact on the other person? What was the impact on you?
- What do you wish you had said or done instead?
- What precluded you from saying or doing that?
- How do you view what you said or did – as a slip or as a fall? For what reasons do you see it that way?
- For what do you want the other person to forgive you? For what might they want you to apologize? For what do you want to forgive yourself?
- How might you ‘brush yourself off’ and make the situation right at this point in time?
- What did you learn that you don’t want to repeat if faced with the same sort of situation in the future – with this person or someone else?
- What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
- What insights do you have?