If You’d Only Told Me

Management Blog
by Cinnie Noble

One of the reasons conflict sometimes evolves is because we aren’t aware of the reasons someone is upset with us. In these cases, by the time we are told about the situation by the person who feels aggrieved by something we said or did the dynamic between us has become increasingly tense. Our lack of knowing how we caused offence adds to our unsettled feelings. This sort of scenario also gives us a sense of helplessness.

Had we known about the other person’s perspective and experience about us things may not have gone on so far and become as difficult. That is, though we might not have liked what the other person told us, we may have been able to “nip things in the bud” and address matters earlier – before feelings escalated.

These are tough situations and it’s difficult at these times to make sense of why the other person didn’t let us know what we did or what we could have done differently. Perhaps they are afraid to share the problem as they see it; maybe they think things will change without saying anything; or they don’t want to risk offending us. These and other reasons may account for not sharing their views and needs, though not knowing does not provide us with the tools or strategies to know how to respond.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider a conflict situation in which you wished you had known earlier what was ailing the other person before things evolved.

  • What is the situation?
  • What didn’t you know that you wished you had?
  • What impact did not knowing have on you?
  • What do you suppose precluded the other person from sharing this with you?
  • If you had known, what would you have done differently?
  • What difference would that have made to the relationship?
  • What difference would that have made to the issues in dispute?
  • When you have held back telling another person something to which they may react poorly, why did you do so?
  • What difference might it have made to what evolved?
  • What’s the learning here?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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 >

Featured Mediators

View all

Read these next


The Power of Gratitude

Conflict Remedy Blog by Lorraine SegalLike letting go of grudges, I believe gratitude is a powerful tool to help us manage and resolve conflict. My email interview on this topic with Parveen Panwar went...

By Lorraine Segal

Online Mediation: Its Uses And Limitations

This article was first published by the Missouri Lawyers Weekly (November, 2000) A cartoon appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal commenting on the cancelled eBay sale of an abstract painting attributed...

By Paula Young

Is It Time?

In a world where we look to change, improve, eviscerate, or satisfy the client/party. In making changes we are coming close to changing the process of mediation to one of...

By Paul Rajkowski

Find a Mediator