Second-Guessing Ourselves When In Conflict

Management Blog
by Cinnie Noble

I don’t know about you – but there are many times I “second-guess” what I said or did in some conflict situations. Or, I might “second-guess” what bothered me in the first place.

The term second-guess has various definitions and for the purpose of this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog I’ll refer to Cambridge Dictionary’s meaning. That definition suggests second-guessing as the act of criticizing someone’s actions or event after it has happened. Considering this definition and the context then, second-guessing in conflict is the act of criticizing ourselves or the other person about the thinking, deeds, words, ways of interacting and so on relating to a fractious interaction. On this basis, here are some questions to consider about a situation in which you are second-guessing your part or the other person’s.

  • What did you do or say that you are now second-guessing?
  • About what specifically are you criticizing yourself? Why are you particularly critical of that?
  • What motivated your actions, words, etc. that you are criticizing?
  • What does your motivation reflect about what you needed at the time?
  • What did you want that you weren’t getting?
  • What first guess(es) might have been better for you? What first guess(es) might have been better for the other person?
  • What different outcome might there be if you had chosen the first guess you referred to in the previous question?
  • What are you second-guessing about the other person’s words, actions, etc.?
  • What positive intent might the person have had that you didn’t consider at the time?
  • What might keep you from second-guessing the next time you are faced with a similar situation?
  • 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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