No Shortcuts when it Comes to Conflict

I like this quote by Beverly Sills – it applies to just about everything!

When it comes to interpersonal conflict though ‘any place worth going’ might be feeling listened to, understood, acknowledged, mutual reconciling of our differences, feeling settled, resolved, and relieved. When it comes to conflict there are truly no short cuts to attain these outcomes.

What might this mean as it pertains to conflict? The notion of shortcuts in conflict may refer to things like taking actions and uttering words that only serve to put a band-aid on what occurred. Or, it may be attempts to make quick fixes to hurt feelings and to issues that require more attention. These might include insincere or untimely apologies; it might be making efforts to appease and move past things when the other person resists – not ready to or wanting to – at least just yet.

In these scenarios and others that are experienced as short cuts, one or both (or more) people usually remain upset and unresolved in themselves or with the other person.

I commonly hear about these sorts of experiences from coaching clients who share situations in which the other person’s ‘short-cut type’ actions have made matters worse. Some clients share that they too take shortcuts of various sorts with the hope of getting over and past the dispute, to get what they want, to win. And when it doesn’t work – whoever takes shortcuts – the result is often increased angst, interpersonal dissension and a breakdown in the relationship.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites readers to consider a dispute in which you identify yourself as someone who took a shortcut that didn’t work out well and one in which you experienced the other person’s actions as a shortcut – and it didn’t work out well.

  • What’s the situation in which you took a shortcut that didn’t work out well?
  • What shortcut did you take? For what reason did you take that shortcut?
  • What did you achieve? What didn’t you achieve that you hoped to?
  • What was the impact on the other person? The relationship?
  • What was an alternate way of managing the dispute that might have worked out better?
  • What different outcome might there have been if you had done so (your answer to the above question)?
  • What would be good about that outcome? What wouldn’t be good about it?
  • When you’ve been in a conflict and someone else took what you would call a ‘shortcut’, what was the situation? What was the shortcut?
  • What was the impact on you? The relationship?
  • What might the other person have done differently that might have been better for you? In what way(s) might have been better?
  • 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 >

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